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Free at Noon Flashback: Neko Case enchants the midday crowd at World Cafe Live

Neko Case | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | senialopez.photography

Singer-songwriter Neko Case is known as much for her work with The New Pornographers as she is for her seven solo albums, and today enchanted a packed house at World Cafe Live upstairs for the Free at Noon concert. Backed by a six-piece band, Neko wielded a Fender Jaguar, her coppery hair veiling her face. “Easy with the cameras…If you film me I’ll forget the words,” she warned. Beyond the firm request for no cameras, the she kept the stage banter to a minimum, moving fluidly through the set.

The band opened with “Man,” a tambourine-heavy song with country vibes that sneers with attitude, the perfect pick to get the crowd stomping. “Hell-On,” the title track of Neko’s latest album, is eerie and echoing. The lyrics weave a mystical setting as if plucked from the pages of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. “Halls of Sarah” is a wistful call in the dark, with wispy, layered vocals. “She didn’t ask to be your remake or your muse / We’re parasites inside her blues,” Neko sang, her voice toying with language, twisting vowels, sweet but never fragile. The set picked up speed toward the end, “Last Lion of Albion” the seam-splitting finale with heavy drum rolls and clanging cowbell.

Neko Case will play Festival Pier tonight, info and tickets hereContinue reading →

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Now Hear This: New songs from Ry Cooder, Neko Case, Wajatta, Bernice, Dear Nora, Stephen Malkmus and more

Neko Case
Neko Case | photo courtesy of the artist

Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.

Happy summer, is it?  I guess I got all the pop out of my system last month, cuz it’s about to get pretty indie in here.  You like indy music, right?  Good, cause I’ve got nothing major planned for this month.  After all, independence day is coming up soon.  In this June installment of Now Hear This, at the halfway point of an already-pretty-excellent year for all kindsa music, we’ll take some stock of the wide, white, anglophone (though in this case, hardly at all male) world of probably the least useful genre descriptor there is.  Then, eventually, we’ll get to some other places – Holland, Africa, outer space, Takoma Park.  We’ll meet some bands named after names, check in with some artists who’ve been around for fifty years, or seventy years, and some who went away for a while and have come back to us.  First, though, let’s hear a heavy hit from one of the least-categorizable heavy-hitters out there… Continue reading →

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Neko Case returns with her first album in five years, Hell-On, and a Festival Pier gig

Neko Case
Neko Case | photo courtesy of the artist

Singer-songwriter and occasional member of The New Pornographers, Neko Case, is back with her first solo project in 5 years, a new album called Hell-On. The album art is intense, featuring Case wearing a top made of brown hair, a hat sculpted out of cigarettes, the words “Hell-On” melting off of her shoulder, and a small, smokey fire bursting out from under her top. The first single, “Hell-On” features imaginative lyrics, whimsical production, and her unique voice. Continue reading →

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Neko Case, Aimee Mann and Julian Casablancas cover some classics for HBO’s Vinyl

Neko Case | Photo by Dennis Kleiman | Courtesy of Anti- Records
Neko Case | Photo by Dennis Kleiman | Courtesy of Anti- Records

Neko Case, Aimee Mann, Julian Casbalancas have all contributed some awesome covers of classics for HBO’s Vinyl. Despite the show not getting rave reviews, Rotten Tomatoes’ “critics consensus” sums it up: “Vinyl doesn’t always keep the beat, dramatically speaking, but overall, it capably honors the rock pioneers of the ’70s with absorbing stories, a spot-on soundtrack, and rich period detail.” Continue reading →

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Through beautiful vocals and a vibrant band, Neko Case bonds with her Electric Factory crowd (photos, review, setlist)

Neko Case | Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com All photos by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com

During the middle of the song “The Pharaohs” there was a massive jolt of feedback that shook the foundation of The Electric Factory on Wednesday night. While it was bad for the crowd, it must have been hell for Neko Case and her camp. The entire group reeled back, almost cowering, and covered their ears as best they could. When it all cleared up Neko cautiously approached the mic, and asked if the crowd was ok. The crowd was fine, but we all wanted to know if they were ok. That’s the type of relationship Neko has with her fans.

It wasn’t about calling out songs that people wanted to hear, and even the smartphones were in (relatively) small use for the duration. You show up to a Neko Case show prepared to listen to what she has to say. Her songs, in a live environment, take on a new life. It’s also a bonus to listen to her rag on her bandmates. It’s a friendly , intimate environment for everyone involved, despite the size of the venue.

Stripped of her beloved studio reverb, there is a naked beauty to the music. On record, I would guess that there is a strain to the note she sings. In person though, it all appears quite easy for her. There is no effort to hit even the most soaring of vocal lines. That in itself solidifies her as one of my favorite singer ever. Swinging through songs from the past and the present, Neko and the band brought even the most orchestral arrangements to life in a way that was simultaneously unique and familiar.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Neko Case at Electric Factory, Sam Amidon at Tin Angel, J. Cole at The Mann and more

Photo by Jason Creps
Photo by Jason Creps

This month indie-alt-Americana icon Neko Case released her latest album, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. The story of the record is pretty well encapsulated in its title, but you can hear Case dig into the depression and heartache that gave birth to this new collection of songs in this recent interview with World Cafe’s David Dye. Tickets for tonight’s all-ages show with her New Pornographers bandmate A.C. Newman can be found at The Electric Factory‘s website; below, watch the music video for Case’s “Man.”

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Stream Neko Case’s new album in its entirety via NPR Music First Listen (XPN Welcomes Neko Case to the Electric Factory 9/25)

Photo bu Emily Shur
Photo by Emily Shur
Neko Case releases her new album, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, on September 3rd. You can stream the new album in its entirety here via NPR Music. Stephen Thompson of NPR Music writes:

Case’s gift for disarming commentary carries over to the quotable, thoughtful, frequently lovely songs on The Worse Things Get: She can be bracingly acerbic (as in the aggressive power-pop gender-bender “Man”), boldly inspiring (“Ragtime” again: “I am one and the same / I am useful and strange”), or achingly tender (as in her Nico cover “Afraid,” with its gasp-inducing delivery of the words, “You are beautiful and you are alone”) while conveying equal, virtually boundless charisma.

Recorded with an assortment of her favorite collaborators — including producer Tucker Martine, longtime backup singer Kelly Hogan, M. Ward, her New Pornographers colleague A.C. Newman, Visqueen’s Rachel Flotard, and many more — The Worse Things Get (out Sept. 3) tucks thrills into its margins and doles them out in time-release doses. As her subtle touches suddenly cohere and register as surprises six or eight listens later (wait, are those submarine noises?), it’s clear that Case remains essentially peerless: No one sounds like her, so every little revelation feels altogether new.

Stream Case’s new album here.

WXPN Welcomes Neko Case to the Electric Factory on Wednesday, September 25th. Go here for tickets and more information about the show.

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Listen to Neko Case’s new single “Night Still Comes” (playing Union Transfer on 9/25)

Next Month Neko Case returns with her first album in four years, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, due out September 3rd on Anti- Records. The wait brings with it some heavy subject matter, as the new lyric video for “Night Still Comes” – which premiered on style blog Refinery 29 today – is peppered with allusions to drugs, drowning and self-destruction, blended with Case’s trademark Americana instrumentation and Nashville harmonies. Listen (and learn the words) below, and catch Case when she returns to town on September 25th at Union Transfer; tickets and more  information can be found here.

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Mean Lady, Neko Case, Katie Frank & The Pheromones

Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese

Katie Frank & The Pheromones brought songs from their upcoming Counting Your Curses record to a Key Studio Session this week.  The Elizabethtown native and her rootsy Americana band will release the debut LP in August.  Get the full session here and catch them at MilkBoy on July 17th.

Nebraska singer-songwriter Joshua James provided this week’s Folkadelphia Session, which included songs off of his 2012 full-length From the Top of Willamette Mountain.  Folkadelphia’s Fred Knittel described James’ work as “spine-tingling” and “complex” – check it out for yourself here.

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My Morning Download: “Man” by Neko Case

Photo by Jason Creps
Photo by Jason Creps
Neko Case releases a new album, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, on Anti- Records on September 3. The album is the singer-songwriter’s first new album since Middle Cyclone came out in 2009. The Worse Things Get features guest appearances from M. Ward, Howe Gelb (Giant Sand), Tucker Martine, members of The New Pornographers, My Morning Jacket, Calexico, and Los Lobos. WXPN Welcomes Case to the ELectric Factory on September 25. Go here for tickets. Below, download “Man,” via NPR Music’s Heavy Rotation: 10 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing.