Reviews by Mark Anthony Brennan
‘Alive Inside’ by Braintree
Edge with class. That sums up Braintree, a low-key but powerful force from Vancouver.
Lead singer Dan (no last names given) has an affected singing voice, giving the affair a grandiose post-punk feel. However, contrast the vocals with the grunge/punk musical output and you get something quite unique. Despite being creative and somewhat navel-gazing, the band never wanders far from their raw roots. “Sharper Relief”, for example, rolls out almost like a chant, but the guitars get a little dirty and Selina’s drum beat is unpredictable.
The Vancouver slacker/punk sound comes through with the trio of Dan, Mike and Selina, but they masterfully twist it to make it their own.
Prime cut: “Treasures of the Blind”
‘Smaller Than Death’ by Crashing Into Things
Lead singer Mike Isacson’s sonorous baritone will have you quaking in your boots, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Victoria’s Crashing Into Things. Featuring some of the capital’s finest musician’s, the EP ‘Smaller Than Death’ is a delight from anyone who likes intelligent garage rock with a psych edge. On “Cosmic Joke”, for example, we are treated to the singer’s ironic take on life while the band goes nuts on guitar and keys, creating a swirling haze of dark psychedelia. Arguably even more impressive is “The World”, with its crazy stops and starts, and Isacson going from singing to virtual street poetry.
Prime cut: “Cosmic Joke”
‘Above All Else’ by redress
Attempting to categorize redress’s music is futile. The Victoria artist makes musical statements that are simply her own. “Ascension” features a simple, throbbing beat with lyrics that are mostly spoken as a conversation. Elsewhere, there are no lyrics at, such as on “Pale Green”, which goes from burbling arps to techno house beats and back. The music is perhaps most effective when she brings it all together, as on “Shrouded”, with its insistent dance beat, oddball rhythm, and the spoken words, “I know I’ll get/Just what I deserve.”
Prime cut: “Shrouded”
‘Nude’ by Peach Guevara
As the title suggests, ‘Nude’ is unadorned with nothing hidden. Listening to it is like being invited into Peach Guevara’s living room to hear her play guitar and fiddle with words that just came to her mind. Her delivery is honest and unpolished, pulling you into her world with all its blemishes left lovingly intact. Generally, the mood is mournful (“Message”) but occasionally things get a tad livelier, such as with “Wild Womxn” and its almost rollicking blues/americana strumming.
Raw singer-songwriter material doesn’t come any better. ‘Nude’ is a veritable diamond in the rough.
Prime cut: “Wild Womxn”
‘Significant Changes’ by Jayda G
Jayda G is from Vancouver but currently records in Berlin. Make no mistake, this record is slick but don’t let the cover art fool you. Far from being commercial radio ready, ‘Significant Changes’ uses the platform of modern r&b merely as a jumping-off point. The artistry and experimental creativity is high as Jayda G explores many avenues throughout the course of the album. “Missy Knows What’s Up” may have sampled spoken word but the tune takes wild excursions into beats and rhythms, and “Stanley’s Get Down” is undoubtedly fun, even while things get atmospheric and kinda weird. Tracks like “Unifying the Centre (Abstract)” get quite experimental and out-there, however Jayda G’s sense of musicality keeps it grounded and relatable.
Prime cut: “Unifying the Centre (Abstract)”