The sweetness of Heather Nova consumed the indie rock market throughout the 1990s, and into the new millennium she was a rising star across the globe. Born to a Canadian mother and a father from Bermuda, Heather Frith used singing and music as a means of entertainment during her childhood. She was born in her father's native land on July 6, 1967, and spent the next 16 years of her life aboard a 40-foot boat with her parents, brother, and sister. Her imagination was tested and music was her calling. She incessantly listened to taped records from her mother, later crafting her own songs by age eight.
Boasting big, bold pop production that suggests the anthemic-but-personable sound of Natalie Imbruglia, Siren bursts out of the speakers with a giddy rush of emotion. But Heather Nova's not one to wail stridently like some Alanis-come-lately; instead she favors a breathy, delicate style that's nevertheless strong enough to ride comfortably atop the layers of acoustic and electric guitars. (In fact, it's Nova's own guitar that's at the heart of most of the arrangements here.) Throughout Siren, Nova utilizing an intriguing catch in her voice, and ultimately, it's Nova's unique vocal style and winning pop sensibilities that make Siren work as well as it does, doing double duty as substantive singer/songwriter statement and perfect pop-radio product.
In some ways, Heather Nova is more talented than many of her female singer/songwriter contemporaries. She has an appealing voice, strong lyrics, and memorable melodies – that is, when she delivers. Unfortunately, many of her albums are uneven, with Nova delivering the goods as often as she misses the mark. The best moments on her second album, Oyster, rank among her very best work, demonstrating that she can pull off ballads, guitar pop, and hard rock with equal aplomb. The rest of the album isn't so much bad as it is bland, offering lesser versions of the good stuff. Certainly, Nova makes Oyster worth exploring – it's just a little frustrating that the entire album doesn't deliver on the promise of its best moments.
RARE TRAX is continued series of promotional samplers given away with the german edition of Rolling Stone magazine since the 1990's and has reached volume 80 already. Each version covers a special topic and presents lesser known songs and artists.
One doesn't necessarily associate punk firebrands the Clash with the radio-ready likes of Third Eye Blind and No Doubt. But in the years since the demise of the Clash, their impact, once localized to the punk underground, has seeped up from the gutter they once championed. ("The truth," rasped Joe Strummer in one of his more memorable couplets, "is known only by guttersnipes.") Burning London affords a dozen-plus popular late-'90s performers the opportunity to tip their hats to the erstwhile scourges of the mainstream. The results, as is common with such tributes, are wildly mixed.