When: Wed., Dec. 14, 9 p.m. 2011
On her second solo album, Bright & Vivid (File Under Music), New Pornographers singer and keyboardist Kathryn Calder marries dark lyrics to music that's downright ethereal and frothy, a combination that improves both. Sometimes her heavy existential lyrics go down easy, like a pill hidden in a spoonful of ice cream (on "Who Are You?" she sings with a weightless grace, "Who are you? / Always hanging on, barely hanging on / Your grip is slipping"), and sometimes they nicely undercut the effervescent melodies and billowy, elaborate arrangements. Calder's high-pitched voice and light-footed tunes occasionally make me picture dancers twirling in the crowd at Lilith Fair (hello, Sarah McLachlan), but she's actually quite grounded—she metes out her syllables with mathematical precision, as though she were arranging them to complement the drumbeats. —Peter Margasak Himalayan Bear and K. Serra open.