Neko Case, of course
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
It's easy to get sick of music. You could be that guy who has an immaculate archive of vinyl and always knows about new music first, but if inundated with enough of it (say, at a job that requires wading through many a mucky pile of promos), music gets boring.
Last summer during a three-week stint in Toronto, I was struggling with one such bored-with-music funk. There was excellent music to hear there, but it didn't interest me at all. I just wanted to read, and that's what I did. Every day I spent a few hours sitting behind huge second-story windows of a Chapters (Canada's equivalent to Borders) with a pile of books and magazines.
Generally the store played music and, generally, I ignored it. But one day Neko Case's newest album, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, wafted down from the fluorescently lit ceiling and wrestled a compendium of cult writers for my attention.
I had heard Case's music before: The prior summer I'd listened to her side project, Vancouver pop band The New Pornographers’ Twin Cinema, ad nauseam, but had never given her solo work a second thought. But for upwards of nine years, the drummer, pianist, guitarist, singer and songwriter had been releasing her unusual and delicately composed music which exists not completely categorizable, somewhere on the sonic landscape borders of rock ’n’ roll, alt.country and experimental Americana.
Case's five-and-a-half solo albums (all of them released on independent labels) are amazing; poetically, vocally and compositionally. Her lyrics are a sharp contrast to much alt.country's intellectualized, traditionalist artifice: singing about bygone eras the artists never actually lived to see. Case's lyrics, translated with her abundant, uncommonly beautiful voice, are more authentically contemporary. She sings about her own experiences, not those of other generations.
And so that summer, in the aisles of that corporate bookstore, Neko Case grabbed me by my bookish ponytail and pulled me right out of that music slump. If you're currently feeling anything resembling a humdrum disinterest in music, my prediction is that Neko Case will, if given a chance this Sunday night, rekindle your own love of sound.
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