neko case

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Off topic, does anyone have an “entry song” into “Hazards of Love”? You know, a song you can listen to and it gets you excited to hear the rest? Excluding the Rake’s Song, that is. I listened to the first three tracks and it was like, snoozeville, so either I am way off base or I just haven’t found the way into it. Any suggestions? (Confession: I kind of hate albums where the whole thing is one story. Excluding “The Wall.” But even that gets on my nerves sometimes.)

Aaaand, back to topic in five, four three ….

The ladies are rocking my socks off these last few months, with some really great stuff. It’s so much fun to look at my playlist and realize that it’s all women singing/writing/playing (yes, guys are great too, that’s not the point). Let’s recap, for those people who have been hiding under a rock for awhile.

01. Lisa Hannigan — Sea Sew. Have I said enough about this album? I THINK I HAVE.

Lisa Hannigan — Venn Diagram

02. Camera Obscura — My Maudlin Career. This one is classic C.O. and very fun to listen to. It starts off with such a great track, “French Navy,” where Traceyanne Campbell laments the fleeting nature of love and its unholdability.

Camera Obscura — French Navy

03. Vienna Teng — Inland Territory. Her voice is so beautiful that she sneaks all kinds of social issues into her songs and you don’t even notice until you’re singing along.

Vienna Teng — No Gringo

04. Bat For Lashes — Two Suns. Spacy, nutty, gorgeous: it’s all still there in the fabulous mix that is Natasha Khan.

Bat For Lashes — Travelling Woman

05. Neko Case — Middle Cyclone. The usual mix of the unusual: startling violent images, mysterious lyric play, being stalked by a cyclone. You know; same old same old.

Neko Case — Polar Nettles

06. Jenn Grant — Echoes. Understated and beautiful folk with jazzy undertones; the lyrics almost remind me of Bjork sometimes :D but the music does not sound anything like Her Icelandiness.

Go forth and listen!

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Heard the new Britney, huh? Yeah … me too. Yeah. Let’s change the subject.

[ed note: tracks removed. contact me for a copy.]

01 Neko Case – Make Your Bed
02 Bert Susanka – Onward Christian Slater
03 Josh Ritter – Rumors
04 Shaggy – Oh Carolina
05 PJ Harvey – When Under Ether

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Sugar Free Mix

This post is for friend and reader J.M., who I admire very much. Lately he has faced a few personal challenges, which I shall not enumerate even in this post-privacy age, and he has faced them with bravery and with fortitude. He has conquered a couple of fears that even I squirm in my chair to think of. I salute you, James! I salute you with a mix containing a hefty dose of Canadians :D Hope you enjoy it.

This is a mix, for reals, so it’s set up a certain way & meant to be played in order. However, I know that this here digital age has made mixes so passé; therefore I also include single links.

Sugar Free Mix
for J.M. [08.21.07]

[ed note – tracks removed. contact me for a copy of single tracks (max of 3 pls)]

01 Play Tough – The Apples In Stereo
02 Shaking Through – REM
03 Know How (ft Feist) – Kings Of Convenience
04 Ode To Serotonin – Nightmare Of You
05 Life Effect – Stars
06 If I Should Explode – Machines Of Loving Grace
07 Van Helsing Boom Box – Man Man
08 The Needle Has Landed – Neko Case
09 Doing the Unstuck (Live, London, 92) – The Cure
10 Ultimate – Gogol Bordello

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Top 10 2006; 7

Neko Case
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
John Saw That Number (removed. contact me for a copy.)

Putting a finger down on “Fox Confessor” is difficult. Case has crafted an album out of vagueness and specificity; myth and religion; murder and love; saints and serial killers. Finding the points where they intersect requires all the listener’s attention. In an April interview with Pitchfork, Case noted that her songwriting was “kind of a collage style. I realized that it had more emotional weight that way.” That affects the larger aspects of the songs — even the P’fork reporter admitted that he couldn’t follow what she was saying half the time. Perhaps that’s part of the collagey oeuvre, though — you’re supposed to look at the collection of words, but not try to separate them from one another.

When she wants to be, however, Case is a mistress of the concrete image. Everyone who’s heard “Star Witness” can recite that creepy first line: My true love drowned in a dirty old pan of oil that did run from the block / of a Falcon sedan, nineteen sixty-nine, / the papers said ‘seventy-five. I love the little detail of “did run” instead of “ran.” It’s archaic, more formal; like the murderer is writing it down in his (or her?) journal so he can remember it later. There’s also a great line from “That Teenage Feeling”: We can only laugh at these regrets, common as a winter cold / they’re telephone poles. They follow each other / one, after another, after another. Short, sweet, to the point.

In the same P’fork interview, Case says, “I tend to work in a way where I say what I need to say and get out rather than revisit things.” This is one of her greatest strengths. Since her subject matter is esoteric, there might be a tendency to overexplain (I’m looking at you, C. Meloy). But even when employing the mysterious Fox Confessor archetype, Case gets in and gets out; the song is short, cryptic, and saturated with myth, leaving the viewer with the same doubts as the narrator: Will i ever see you again? / will there be no one above me to put my faith in?

The best track to my mind is “Hold On, Hold On,” which harks back to the alt-country (or country noir, if you ask Case) genre that most people peg her as. It hits my weak spot, with its sarcastic, lucid lyrics: I leave the party at three a.m. / alone, thank G*d. With a valium from the bride / it’s the devil I love. Another standout is “John Saw That Number,” a little religious ditty that describes an angel as having the moon in his fists / and the stars round his wrists. Even just considering Case’s beautiful voice and harmonies, “Fox Confessor” has outsung most of the female output this year. So I’m toeing the party line with this album — it’s not a disc where you get it all on the first listen, but the more you hear it, the more there is to like.