5 ON THE FLY Five mini reviews from Coast to Coast.

Pale Red – Soft Opening
[Vancouver, BC]

Pale Red have put out one of the best art-punk albums of the year. There may be many comparisons to The Pixies throughout ‘Soft Opening’, but this clever trio really go their own giddy way. Weird three-part harmonies abound, along with pounding electronic beats, sometimes electro, sometimes motorik. Meanwhile the guitar takes wild flights into funk (“Kullopodíon”), hard rock (“One Sided Man”), and surf twang (“The Voyeurs”). The vocal style is sometimes reminiscent of Talking Heads, such as on “Kullopodíon”, but it also ventures wildly away into whimsical ditties (“I Am the Meter”), dirty noise rock (“Worms in the Dirt”), and gothic confessional (“I Don’t Answer Questions”).

Prime cut: “One Sided Man”

Sound Drown – Dino Droppings
[Saint John, NB]

Sound Drown play more of the Saturday night variety of rock, and they do it with flourish, verve, and some of that East Coast celt-punk kick. The latter can be heard most prominently on the rambunctious “Runaway”, but is also present in some of the chorus bursts, such as in “Living Song”. Their pop music is melodic, despite being noisy most of the time. It is also usually given a heavy backing, such as the speed punk of “Dino Droppings” and the blaring grunge of “Living Stone”. Defying all expectations, Sound Drown finish of the record with aa arena-style power pop tune.

Prime cut: “Dino Droppings”

Robert Robert – Welcome to Finetown
[Montreal, QC]

Robert Robert likes to mix club beats, but he likes to mess around with them and add some experimental touches. The result is an album bursting with colourful energy; every track a veritable treat. “The Coolest Place in the Universe” sounds like just that as it bounces along with a magical beat dressed in flashy synth trimmings. “Misunderstood” (with vocals by Anna Majidson) is more of a ’90s R&B number, with a beat and rhythm as slick as midnight. The instrumental “Sad Anthem” is warped disco.

Arguably the best track, however, is when Robert Robert gets even more crazy on the delightful romp of “Get To You Safe”, featuring Ryan Playground.

Prime cut: “Get To You Safe”

Tzadeka – Half the pain is half the work
[Edmonton, AB]

Tzadeka is a breathtakingly original artist. Her music could be described as experimental hip-hop, but that is really the wrong way to look at it. The pieces created by vocalist Maigan Van Der Giessen and producer Madame Wang are avant works of spoken word or art pop that just happen to use elements of hip-hop. “Familiar Places” is perhaps the most traditionally hip-hop song as Tzadeka raps on about how modern culture and its industries, such as merchandizing, contribute towards rape culture and an overall negative attitude towards women. Elsewhere, however, hip-hop is virtually absent, such as in “Ancisters”, an odd alt pop tune in which Tzadeka sings and only occasionally raps, or in “Sunshine”, in which she half-sings to a modern R&B groove.

Tzadeka speaks to us (or sings) about matters of current concern, particularly on women’s issues, and on ‘Half the pain is half the work’ she does so in an original and entertaining way.

Prime cut: “Ancisters”

Act of Chaos – Morose World
[London, ON]

London’s Act of Chaos double down on the heaviosity, but they don’t forget to stay tuneful, and that gives them a leg up on many of their competitors. On “Reckless Waste” vocalist Spinny adopts the appropriate devil growl, but he sings quite melodically as the lead guitar whines insistently. “Global Witness” has even more melody to it, as well as a definite underlying groove. The message here is also a worthy one, as Act of Chaos chastise us for merely standing by and simply witnessing the world turn to shit:

“It’s not our problem/It’s none of our business/But still the bourgeois laugh/While our home violently weeps”

Prime cut: “Global Witness”