5 ON THE FLY Five mini reviews from all across Canada.

General Gruff [Victoria] – Au4

Victoria’s General Gruff are difficult to describe because their style of music is all over the map. Post-punk, hip-hop, bluegrass stomp, glitch, synthwave, and even more. The thing that makes GG so special is that genre really doesn’t mean anything to them, as they slip easily from one to the other, sometimes several times during a single track. Everything has an experimental edge, but the music’s appeal is broad.

Prime cut: “Shiney Dollar Bill”

Betrayers [Edmonton] – 12 Songs To Haunt You

Edmonton’s Betrayers have the whole psych-garage thing down pat. Like old-school doo-wop? So, check out the dreamy beach-blanket vibes of “Kiss Me Quick”. And, hey, they can even turn around and do the same thing in French, as they do on “Les etoiles”. Then the band goes all country-twang rock-n-roll on “Levi’s Blues”, and ’60s baroque pop on “The Devil Doesn’t Want You”. Best of all is when they go full tilt dirty garage (“Spit Hood”) or roller-rink dizzy psychedelic (“For The Kill”).

You get the picture. Psych-garage is just a general vicinity and Betrayers have no fixed address.

Prime cut: “For The Kill”

Weed [Vancouver]- Born Wrong Love

Sadly, ‘Born Wrong Love’ is the swansong for Vancouver’s Weed. And what a swansong it is. The band keeps things loose, ragged and noisy, but they pack their songs with off-beat charm and melody. It’s a sort of ‘90s sense of optimism transplanted to a post-hardcore age. They keep their foot on the pedal, with their grinding guitars firmly planted in grunge. But every track has a pop song at its heart, whether it’s the British-flavoured, ennui-laden “Favourite Hate” or the shoegaze beauty of “”Are We Cool?”.

Prime cut: “Leash”

Bonnie Trash [Guelph] – Ezzelini’s Dead

Twins Sarafina and Emma Bortolon-Vettor combine as Bonnie Trash to produce one of the oddest EPs we’ve reviewed this year. As a celebration of their Italian heritage, the Guelph sisters made some field recordings in Italy that are used to punctuate the record with a couple of experimental pieces.

Elsewhere things are more conventional, but are still far from run-of-the-mill. “Meat and Greet”, for instance, is a slow boiler of resonating guitar and vocals that suddenly explodes at the end in a psychedelic melt-down. Cinematic statements are also a penchant of theirs, exemplified by the future spaghetti western weirdness of “Everyone’s a Killer”. An act that is hard to pin down, but equally hard to resist.

Prime cut: “Sleepless Sheep”

Shrimp Ring [Saint John] – Activate Your Function

Hailing from Saint John, NB, Shrimp Ring play outrageously infectious pop synth. “Activate Your Function” is new wave/dance so bubbly that you don’t mind the silliness of the vocal effects. The silliness of “Human Brain Freezer” lies in the reciting of the title line, but the song keeps hopping along with ‘80s synthwave/spoken word sugary goodness. “Space Food” is kinda tongue-in-cheek post-punk club music, while “(Livin’ on a) SHRIMP Ring” is unabashedly disco. You may find bands more serious, but you won’t find any that are more fun.

Prime cut: “Activate Your Function”