‘Think Electric!’ by Property
Sarah Harris, Jack Etch, and Liam Wight make a bold statement on their latest EP. Their signature mix of punk rhythms, post-punk arrangements and artsy vocals is delivered commandingly. “The Isolator” has a Kinks-esque vibe, but vocalist Harris goes from whimsy to the voice of authority in the blink of an eye. “Running Away”, on the other hand, is so angular and repetitive that it should be annoying, but the subtle use of melody turns it into a beautifully hypnotic experience. Perhaps best of all is “In Gloom”, where Harris rambles on about the dreariness of being stuck in fogbound St. John’s, but all the while the band thoroughly entertains us with a woozy blend of electronic and “natural” instrumentation.
‘Think Electric!’ is a confident release, showcasing a band in the prime of their creativity.
‘Pastures’ by John Michigan
After several years recording as Konig, Kingston’s Nadia Pacey now emerges as John Michigan, and with the name change comes a boost in intensity. This is the same singer-songwriter/electronic artist but the surrounding colour is amplified. Despite its whimsical elements, “Twist and Shout” is a dark tune about troubled sleep and features a powerfully downbeat bass line. The slinky “Oxygen Milk Bar” is equally dark, but it’s more the post-punk/Gary Numan kind. There’s a trippy feel to “Breadwinner”, whereas the creepy backing vocals on “I Feel It In My Hair” are downright surreal. Even the sweeter, lighter moments, like the electropoppy “Yellow Jacket” and the more ambient “Groundhog Day”, have a definite edge and quirkiness to them.
‘Pastures’ is like everything you loved about Konig, just cranked up to 11.
‘Chrysalia’ by Eve Parker Finley
With its luscious blend of string arrangements, electronics, and ethereal vocals, ‘Chrysalia’ is a beautiful masterwork. It isn’t simply a case of contemporary pop with orchestral instruments, as Finley fuses the elegant movements of classical music with their own sense contemporary song. Tracks like “Clouds” and “Electrofeu” feature swirling rhythms with string highlights — complex arrangements, but simple in emotional appeal. The standout is perhaps “Come With Me”, which attains a baroque/chamber pop high with its soaring vocals, even as the cello and viola add mournful touches.
‘Chrysalia’ is a standout example of how traditional styles can be synthesized into contemporary expression.
‘The Fink’ by Lee Paradise
There’s a dark, post-punk atmosphere that pervades ‘The Fink’, but Lee’s unbridled exuberance makes it a fun experience.
Lee (actually Daniel Lee of Hooded Fang) captures our interest immediately with an intriguing intro of conversation snippets and strange electronic rhythms, which quickly cuts to the funky sounds of “Message to the Past”. From then on you’re hooked on the bold electronic beats, balanced out by Lee’s detached, downbeat vocals. It’s exciting and cautionary ride.
‘For the Birds’ by Dinah Thorpe
Thorpe is an artsy singer-songwriter with a Portishead approach to music. However, her beats (when they arrive) tend more to the contemporary, so this is no walk down trip-hop memory lane. The overall vibe is one of witchy folk infused with electronica that burst forward in the form of jazz (“Come On, Let’s Do Everything”), urban-cool (“Barely”) and dance “For the Birds”).
Although her contemporary/future rhythms can feel remote, her hushed vocals are almost painfully intimate, as if she is whispering in your ear. On “Almost All the Leaves”, for example, you feel as if you’re in a private conversation as she shares the experience of being an artist and being queer.
Thorpe turns the expression “for the birds” (meaning worthless) on its head, producing an album that is highly worthy, even for the (much respected) birds.
Listen to CFUV (Victoria), Tuesday, March 2, 10 pm to midnight to hear “Deeper Cuts”, featuring several tracks from the above five albums: http://listen.streamon.fm/cfuv