5 ON THE FLY: Five mini reviews all in one place.
Latcho Drom – Whiteout
Like characters from a Vonnegut novel, Latcho Drom are unstuck in time. That is, their music flows so easily from one era to the next that it seems they are unaware of the temporal differential. The lead off track “Everyone’s a Stupid Dickbag” probably best exemplifies their sound: power alt pop, with a strong ‘90s flavour. The band are having fun with it and you can feel that. But then they throw in art punk (“Coal Seam Fire”), bubbly indie pop (“Hey! (I Love You)”) and the rather audacious “No Chill”. The latter track opens in bombastic pop fashion, with a pretentious riff followed by a stadium-filling introductory yell. The song then veers into an odd Broadway/glam interlude, wanders off into ‘70s prog, and then back to the “power emo” thing. Absurd but totally endearing.
Prime cut: “Coal Seam Fire”
All Hands on Jane – Sorry I Set You on Fire
With emphasis on heavy, grinding guitar, the quartet known as All Hands on Jane deliver up servings of garage/grunge in great dollops. On songs like “Birds” they play it straight-ahead, in deliberate, driving fashion. However, there are some nuances to their sound, such as the melodic harmonies and wild psych guitar on “Lone Gunman” or the Patti Smith-style vocals on “Stars”. However, the kicking-ass quotient is high, so you don’t have to appreciate the subtleties to enjoy.
Prime cut: “Kitty City”
Loveland – Chill For You
Robert Loveless leads his Loveland band even further down the path to ‘70s soul nirvana. It’s Peaches ’n’ Herb and The Rolling Stones’ “Emotional Rescue” rolled into one, as electric pianos twinkle, basses roll, and drums do the disco-ballad shuffle. Meantime, Loveless propels his voice into the falsetto heights, capturing those nights on the dance-floor when things got a little quieter but still alive with r&b funkiness.
Prime cut: “Light Night/Dark Day”
Miffed Neighbours – Miffed
Miffed Neighbours love to rock, and they love to play it heavy. No wonder their neighbours are … well, miffed. They cruise through the southern boogie of “Day and Age” like ZZ Top on a sweaty night in 1976, even though the vocals are more akin to Talking Heads. Elsewhere the love of golden age blues-rock is still evident but the vibe tends to be more contemporary indie/alt pop, although “Know My Name” is pure punk and “Sad Boy Blues” actually goes psychedelic.
No instrument is downplayed (and shouldn’t be), as every band member has their setting on “11”. Makes for a full-on assault on the ears but every note’s a treat.
Prime cut: “Cheap Thrills”
Music Maul – “Special”
The musicians on ‘Special’ sound like a ragtag group of traveling troubadours that maybe got kicked off the Tom Waits touring band. They’re loose and crazy as they stagger through indie tunes (close enough) infused with roots, vaudeville, and whatever strikes their fancy. Meanwhile, frontman Trevor Henderson adopts different vocal styles like he was trying on costumes for a Halloween party. On “Help Me Tucson” he croons like a lounge singer who isn’t quite as good as he thinks he is, whereas on “Roofy” he sounds like Ian Curtis trying to cover The Mamas and the Papas.
Weird? Yeah. Fun? Definitely.
Prime cut: “Roofy”