Yes, it's Tuesday, so you get another vainglorious music post, because Neko Case just released her new record, Middle Cyclone, and I can't resist the temptation.
First impressions- Look at her, amazon poised to strike from the hood of that muscle car. I'll admit I'm biased, but it's a great cover, half Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and half Joan of Arc.
Listening #1- I would love to hear a mash-up of Neko Case's "People Got a Lotta Nerve," which refrains with "I'm a man-man-man/ man-man-man-eater,/ but still you're suprised-prised-prised/when I eat ya," with Nelly Furtado's, "Maneater."
Subsequent listenings- The thing you have to understand is, I appreciate Neko Case's gruesome imagery at least as much as I love her voice. On this record, there is no holding back. The aforementioned song, "People Got a Lotta Nerve" is sung from the perspectives of dangerous animals, a kind of sequel to her song, "The Tigers Have Spoken." In both these songs, the narrators are misunderstood for being a big, scary predators- eventually they are destroyed for being just what they have always been (read: man eaters). Gratifyingly, their captors get mauled first. Neko Case, one can conclude, feels and sings like a caged animal, howling for freedom in her gorgeous voice.
The opening track, "This Tornado Loves You" is what it sounds like, a love song from a tornado, ripping up countryside to prove its ardor. "Prison Girls," achieves a sense of looming danger, and lets Case play with a Mata Hari sound. In "Polar Nettles" she sings of a wish that the Sistine Chapel be repainted with gatling gun fire. A melodramatic line, certainly, but ear-catching just the same.*
A personal favorite is definitely the self-chastising, bitter, "The Pharoahs." That country standard of the exceptional woman stranded with a cheating, unworthy man is reborn as Case opines, "I want the pharoahs but there's only men," and the tremulous harp in the background gives way to carnival sounds.
On the other hand, you do have an unimaginative and preachy cover of "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth." There is also a 30 minute final track of marsh noises, but both fit with Middle Cyclone's themes of wildness and nature beyond our control. In short, it's a great album, worth attention and time, and it would make any Tuesday better.
* Understatement is for lo-fi loving twee suckers.