Monday, August 30th, 2010
Follow Me Into The Hills
Review of Kathryn Calder’s Are You My Mother?
Caleb ByersIt’s been a half-decade since Kathryn Calder joined The New Pornographers in 2005, and in that time she’s gone from handling the impossible task of pinch-hitting on tours for Neko Case to appearing on their last three albums and becoming an as integral part of the band – her parts may not have the force of personality as Case’s, but her more delicate approach offers an important contrast and gives Carl Newman another invaluable tool in assembling his power pop symphonies. But prior to joining the Pornographers, Calder had her own creative outlet in Immaculate Machine and while she retains a membership card for the Victoria-based band, she’s largely ceded that outfit to guitarist Brooke Gallupe. Which basically meant that a solo album was pretty much an inevitability, but that doesn’t make Are You My Mother? any less of a surprise.
My experience with Calder as a songwriter goes back as far as the first couple Immaculate Machine records and while they were decent enough pop records, they weren’t particularly exceptional within the realm of Canadian indie. The years of apprenticing to Carl Newman have clearly paid off, however, as Mother is a remarkably fully-realized solo debut, and while it features plentiful contributions from various Pornographers and other Vancouver-based musicians, Calder is clearly in the driver’s seat throughout. One might be forgiven for assuming that given her role as singer and keyboardist in the Pornographers, Calder solo might turn out a record of singer-songwriter-oriented girl-and-piano material. And while at its quieter moment Mother does strip things down to just that, numbers like album opener “Slip Away” and the barreling “Castor And Pollux” are as grandiose pop as anything the New Pornographers might create and just as instantly memorable. Mother is rangy and engaging, built around Calder’s crystalline, pitch-perfect yet expressive voice and perhaps more importantly, her impressive songwriting chops.
The New Pornographers are frequently called a “super-group”, implying that each of their members are as equally accomplished on their own as they are in the band – with Are You My Mother?, Kathryn Calder steps up and makes that even more true.
If you missed North Carolina’s Lost In The Trees when they played a free show here back in June (which I previewed but did not manage to attend), they’re back on September 27 at the Drake Underground in support of Mercury shortlisted Irish act Villagers. They’ve also got a new Daytrotter session up for grabs.
Toronto power-pop aficionados The Golden Dogs will follow up their September 17 show at the Drake Underground with a September 23 in-store performance at Soundscapes at 7PM. Their new record Coat Of Arms came out last month.
The Great Hall will certainly be the scene of mayhem on October 12 when the tour teaming Lightning Bolt and Dan Deacon hits Toronto. Those wanting to be out of the line of fire can take refuge on the stage because neither performer will be setting up there.
LA duo No Age will be releasing their second album Everything In Between on September 28 and have announced an extensive Fall tour to support – the Toronto date comes November 18 at the Polish Combatants Hall.
MP3: No Age – “Glitter”
Spinner talks to Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino and Black Book solicits a list of the band’s favourite NYC hang outs. The band’s self-titled effort will be out September 7 and they’ve just released a second video from it.
Video: Interpol – “Barricade”
And a note to folks in Toronto that if you’re looking for something to do of the cinematic variety this week, you could do much worse than to check out No Heart Feelings at the Royal, where it’s screening through Thursday of this week. It’s a romantic comedy (but not really a rom-com) set in an eminently familiar Toronto from three local first-time directors and though imperfect – it suffers from the atmosphere-and-dialogue-in-lieu-of-plot vagueness that’s all too common in independent film – it’s still a winner thanks to its charm and authenticity (though I don’t do as much in and around the city nearly as much as their characters do, I have no problem believing that people actually DO these things and that I’m really just a shut-in). Don’t take my word for it, check out positive reviews in The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Star and The National Post.
Trailer: No Heart Feelings