5 ON THE FLY Five mini reviews of stuff we (almost) forgot.

Man Made Lake – Godless

Frankly lead singer Colin Craveiro could make anything sound great, but the music of the ridiculously talented Man Made Lake is far from just anything. Based on a strong and introspective lyricism the music moves the listener emotionally, whether it’s stripped-down folk (“Spider Bire”) or rousing indie (“Blood In The Sink”). The band spins a variety of rhythms and beats, including a splash of jazz influence on “Brubeck”. As to Craveiro’s vocal range one just has to listen to “Doris”, as he starts out in a low range with a sonorous Cohen-like quality and then easily slips into a higher register singing melodically along the lines of Jeff Buckley.

Prime cut: “Brubeck”

Low Levels – Lost In The Trance

The guitar/bass/drums trio of Al Boyle, Emily Jayne, and Byron Slack is one of those made in heaven — each piece is crucial to the whole. And if all they were was a noisy rock band then that would be more than enough. All of the songs on ‘Lost In The Trance’ start out as hard-driving punk but they all switch gears at some point. You see, Low Levels’ songs aren’t simple, as “Landlord’s Halo” slips into moments of melodic post-punk and artsy rising guitar scales counteract the punk downbeat in “Lost In The Trance”.

Prime cut: “Landlord’s Halo”

Local Creature and Alien Boy – The Viper Sessions

Local Creature and Alien Boy are actually a Vancouver trio (one of them is called Viper). Together they create a magical potion of country-tinged soul-folk, which is as timeless as it is familiar. They imbue lovely atmospherics into to the sweet country-rock of “Hardest Part” and lend gorgeous highlights on the confessional ballad “Devil’s Enemy”. Things can get exciting too, such as when Viper’s violin strings get edgy on the psych-blues number “Life of Pain”.

Prime cut: “Life of Pain”

Spirit Desire – Adrian

The cleverness displayed on ‘Adrian’ by Toronto’s Spirit Desire would be enough to make anyone smug. But the band is anything but — seemingly having fun and not caring how their wild experiments are taken. As you wander through songs like “Going to Denny’s” you wonder whether they even know what’s going to happen next, as the track starts out as noisy, bassy punk which then slows to crawl only to build back up again in an emo chorus. It’s weird but it’s beautiful. It works. The journey through “Terry Crews” is similar but in reverse, while “Drop It While It’s Hot” makes good use of moody spoken word (courtesy of Daniel G. Wilson) before sinking into screamo fest.

Prime cut: “Drop It While It’s Hot”

ce qui nous traverse – Volume/Brut

Montreal’s ce qui nous traverse bring excitement to experimental post-rock. Ambience may play a role such as in “Pyrolyse”, but on that track the pleasant guitar becomes increasingly dissonant. Then again, dissonance plays a major role throughout. On “4h15 au mirador” the discordant opening leads to even an stranger passage of psych-edged improvisational guitar. When all of these elements come together it’s magical, as on the epic “Mariana” with its heavy metal intro, eerie electric guitar passage, and the ambient ending which fades from sinister to melodic.

Prime cut: “Mariana”