Kathryn Calder is an indie rocker from Victoria, British Columbia. She’s a solo artist as well as a member of The New Pornographers, alongside her uncle Carl Newman. She was also the front of the band Immaculate Machine. Between Immaculate Machine (four records), The New Pornographers (three records) and her solo stuff (two records), she has nine albums under her belt. All in a seven-year span between 2004 and 2011. She’s just 30 (or maybe 29) years old, and probably has her best years as a musician ahead of her.
She joined the Pornos as a touring member to fill in on occasions when Neko Case couldn’t make it. After a couple of years of doing that, she became a full member with voting rights in 2006. With each record, she’s had more responsibilities and a bigger footprint on the body of work.
In 2009, she had to pull out of Immaculate Machine to care for her mother, who was battling ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”). During this time, she wrote the songs that would eventually become her solo debut. Her mother passed away before it was finished, and Are You My Mother? was dedicated in her honor. The New Pornographers’ album Together (2010) was also dedicated to Calder’s mother.
I really loved that record. I called it my seventh favourite in my top 15 Canadian albums of 2010. It took a while for me to get into, but I got really into it once I did.
The second record is pretty stylistically different from the first. It’s quite a bit dance-y and a good bit electro. She didn’t go full electro like Rae Spoon did with his new record, but it’s still a pretty big change from the indie rock/folk flavor that permeated all of Are You My Mother?. The records were alike, though, in that it took me a while to get into Bright and Vivid. I had high expectations, and my first reaction was “meh”. It took several listens for it to take hold. I ended up rating it #11 in my list of my 15 favourite Canadian albums of 2011.
Today’s song is the first song from Bright and Vivid, and it’s probably my favourite. It’s my favourite today, anyway. This is that song.
“One Two Three” by Kathryn Calder
It’s a shame that Kathryn Calder can’t count as high as Leslie Feist can, but I still love this song.
Joking aside, I really like this song. And I also highly recommend that Feist performance of “1234” from Letterman. In the choir, there’s an assortment of indie rock all-stars including all of Grizzly Bear, some of The National, Carl Newman, Nicole Atkins, Mates of State, Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew (of Broken Social Scene), and a few others.
I love the way “One Two Three” starts out. All feedback-y and fuzzy and laden with delay. Almost like something from Pavement’s Watery, Domestic EP. Then the drums come thundering in. They remain that heavy for the whole song, and I love that. Not loud and crazy. Just heavy.
There’s a guitar bit that runs throughout, but we hear it for the first time at 1:38. The really whiny bit. It reminds me a great deal of that guitar bit in the song “Sporting Life” by The Sea and Cake (1997, from the album The Fawn). I like that tiny little thing a lot.
You all know that I love false endings, and I love the one in this song at around the 2:53 mark. It sounds like it’s going to fade out quickly, but there’s still another minute and a half. Then it turns all ambient/dreamy. You think that it’s just going to do that for the last little bit. Then, at 3:30, the drums are heavy and thunderous. It stays that way til the end.
I can hardly identify any of the lyrics, let alone interpret them. I’ll just leave it like this: from a musical standpoint, I love this song. I don’t need or even want for there to be a deep meaning.
You can buy Bright and Vivid in physical form here, or digitally from your favorite legal downloading place.