5 ON THE FLY Five mini reviews all in one place.

Bird City – Winnowing

Guelph singer-songwriter Jenny Mitchell (aka Bird City) is engaging as ever on ‘Winnowing’. Although her banjo is often present, country isn’t really at the core of these songs. Mitchell leans on her keen lyrics to create intelligent folk-pop, with lines like,“What is this role that I’m playing?/I keep meeting others but it seems they’re never staying”. The delivery is made all the more charming with the singer’s quaint voice, which can sound innocent as to be child-like at times (e.g. “A Bit Part”).

Prime cut: “Hours’

Micropanik – Materia

On ‘Materia’ the Montreal duo of JS Vaillancourt (bass, vocals, electronics, etc.) and JC Blain (drums) crank out electronica (in the broadest sense of the term) with their own distinct stamp on it. For one thing, they like sludgy metal bass. It plays a major role in such tracks as “No Good Music” and crops up here and there. They also leans towards post-punk/kosmische, such as on the electro-charged “Criticize Me”, and ambience, such as on the beginning of “Long-Lost Audio”.

Prime cut: “Idiotérique”.

4 Band Split – WLMRT/Deathsticks/Nüshu/Nightbummerz

The four bands in question have one thing in common — they’re noisy — but from that point on they diverge. Toronto’s WLMRT plays screeching, no-nonsense punk that’s delightfully lo-fi. The entry by Halifax’s Nightbummerz is more post-punk and paranoid — dark art-punk with screamo vocals. Deathsticks (Ottawa) get more experimental with “I Named My Ulcer After You”, which ends up being both eerie and frenetic. Nüshu’s electrified garage punk is also somewhat experimental, but the Montreal band are more playful in how they mess with their music.

Prime cut: “Génération Nomophobe” by Nüshu

The Burning Hell – Revival Beach

The Burning Hell is ostensibly the alter ego of singer-songwriter Mathias Kom, but when you add Darren Browne (guitar) and Ariel Sharratt (vocals, clarinet) you have yourself one heck of band. The excel at everything they put their hand to and they put their hand to a lot. There’s gentle indie-folk (“Minor Changes”), but also tracks with interesting grooves and rhythms, such as the dark blues vibe brought on by the bass and reverb guitar in “The Troll”. And then there are instrumental numbers like “Race to Revival Beach” that owe more to swing or jazz than to rock.

The lyrics throughout are ear-catchingly insightful and strange, and in the case of the delightful pop song “Canadian Wine” just downright hilarious.

Prime cut: “The Babysitter”

Lunar Lemur – How Do You Know You’re The Same You When You Wake?

‘How Do You Know You’re The Same You When You Wake?’ consists of 23 “gates” into the strange mind of the Lunar Lemur. The electronic music is generally mesmerizing ambience that gently shifts from one musical expression to the next. Sometimes undercurrents of dark drone erupt to the surface, such as in “Gate 9”, giving some of your reverie an interesting edge. But the mood never gets totally dark — overall the album is a blissfully hypnotic experience.

Prime cut: “Gate 20”