Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
Review of Charlotte Hatherley’s New Worlds
MySpaceI don’t remember if I read somewhere that Charlotte Hatherley has synesthesia (the condition wherein your visual cognition is tied to your aural and, amongst other symptoms, you see colours or shapes when you hear sounds – experienced by the likes of Lightspeed Champion and Ida Maria, amongst others), but even if she doesn’t you could be forgiven if you assumed she did. Her first two solo records, Grey Will Fade and The Deep Blue, obviously referenced colours in their titles and her while her third record New Worlds has no chromatic reference in its name, the music within is fairly obsessed with all the shades of the rainbow.
Almost every song references a colour, either as literal, metaphor or adjective, and that theme acts as a common thread between the ten songs which run a stylistic gamut from spiky rockers (“Colours”) to dreamy ballads (the front half of “Alexander”l) with forays into circus music (the unexpected “Firebird”). Whereas her debut was a pretty straight-ahead, hooktacular bit of power pop, The Deep Blue dialed down much of the instant gratification quotient in favour of songs that favoured a more leisurely and eccentric New Wave-friendly approach. While it was unfailingly melodic, full of tasty guitarwork and with its share of high points, its eclecticism came at the expense of some cohesion. New Worlds hangs together much better, making it a much smoother and enjoyable ride as it twists and turns from hook to hook and successfully balances Grey‘s pop/rock-friendliness with Blue‘s more experimental inclinations. To do either well is difficult enough; to do them both as naturally and effortlessly as Hatherley has proven herself able with record number three is a feat.
New Worlds was supposed to be the first Charlotte Hatherley album to get North American distribution but that’s shaken out to be just digital (eMusic and iTunes in the US, iTune-only in Canada), so those of use still enamored with physical media had to go the import route anyways. Still, rumours persist of some North American (read: US) tour dates in the new year – a Charlotte show is on the list of things I would get on a plane for. Okay, it’s not an especially exclusive list, but still.
I asked (rhetorically) what reason Billy Bragg had to be touring Canada this month – well besides serenading the masses, he’s also found the time to address Parliament on the subject of copyright and perform for picketers outside the Canadian Museum of Civilization. He also chatted with The Vancouver Sun.
Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce talks to The Quietus about how working on the 10th anniversary reissue of Ladies & Gentleman We Are Floating In Space influenced the writing of the next Spiritualized record, currently in progress. The reissue is out December 9 in a variety of formats, including this ridiculously cool blister pack edition.
Both Drowned In Sound and The Skinny declare that 2010 will be the year of the (Frightened) Rabbit. Their new album The Winter Of Mixed Drinks is out March 1 and Stereogum has radio rips of a couple new songs to download.
Camera Obscura’s forthcoming Christmas single is now available to stream over at 4AD. The Jim Reeves cover is out on 7″ and digitally on December 8 and they play the Phoenix this Thursday night – congratulations to Scott and Andrea, who won passes to the show.