5 ON THE FLY: Five mini reviews all in one place.
Mi’ens – Challenger
“multiple loops, guitar lines that go in and out of phase, poly-rhythms, and some sparkly riffs you can dance to”
If you are looking for an easy listen then you’ve come to the wrong place. The Vancouver duo known as Mi’ens (Kim Glennie on voice/guitar/loops and Evan Heggen on drums) don’t play up to anyone’s expectations and they follow their musical muse wherever it may take them. Choose to follow them and you’ll be rewarded with superb art-rock/post-rock because, despite the angular melodies, complex guitar lines and odd time signatures, there is a true warmth at the heart of their music.
Prime cut: “Challenger”
Jons – At Work On Several Things
Over the past couple of years Jons have been cementing their reputation as one of Victoria’s finest alternative bands to such a degree that they now find themselves vying with the likes of Freak Heat Waves and Strange Fruit for bragging rights. On their second full-length they solidify both their sound and their reputation, with solid, uncompromising songs that are nevertheless highly accessible. The mood is wistful, the sound is jangly and the pace is languid. You can either just kick back and enjoy the sonic vibe, or you can take note of their commentary on the state of modern life — works either way.
Prime cut: “In The Yard”
Waxlimbs – The New Dirt
Not satisfied with putting out one great album in 2016 (‘II’ by Blue Hands), Alex Metcalfe also returns as Waxlimbs. It’s an album of subtle grace — nothing is overly dramatic or flashy, but there is an inherent sincerity that inexorably pulls you in. At first blush it is pleasantly indie to the ear and Metcalfe has an approachable persona in his “everyday” manner of singing, but there is an undeniable artsiness to the warped strains of “The New Dirt”, for example, or the strange progression in “Noise Wood”. This artsiness is not in the least bit off-putting, however, as it merely adds depth to the feelings you were already sharing.
Prime cut: “While At The Window”
The Gary Jerry John-John Band (formerly Brazilian Money) – Fly Free Rock Angel
Garrett Johnson plays a form a breezy slacker rock infused with humour and good-natured energy. Songs like “Nude Beach” are light and surfy, but even here there are mathy elements to make the experience a tad more substantial. On the other hand, “Infinite Money Cage” is definitely a weird-ass piece with its odd structure, and yet it has an inviting melody. So, Johnson meets you in the middle no matter what.
Prime cut: “Rock Angel”
Phern – cool coma
Phern is something of a “supergroup” being composed of members from Moss Lime, Each Other, Sheer Agony, R U Real and Soft Cone. Hélène Barbier’s sweet pop vocals centre everything while the rest of the band has fun tripping off on occasion. Guitars are wonky, the synths tend to wander off and the drums never play it straight. Sometimes it may seem that the results are more a thing to be admired than enjoyed, but repeated listen gives an appreciation of this quirky but entertaining crew.
Prime cut: “Crosswalk Talk”