When Neko Case came to Colorado on tour, I took my mother. That is how good she is. I had sent my mom Case’s new album, ‘Middle Cyclone,’ which came out in March of 2009, and she actually listened to it (a big step), and liked it (a giant leap). The album is yet another brilliant and spirited slice of haunted Americana, with all of Case’s obsessions represented. As with previous albums, especially ‘Furnace Room Lullaby’ and ‘Fox Confessor Bring the Flood,’ the theme of ‘Country Noir’ is seen in ‘Middle Cyclone’ to a great extent. Case tells stories about love gone wrong, prison girls, and murderous tornados. Her material is as complex and layered as her sound. She uses her pitch perfect vocals to perfection and manages to evoke an atmosphere of eeriness while at the same time maintaining a hum worthy beat
Born originally in Virginia, Case moved to Tacoma, Washington at a young age, the location that appears most frequently in her music, that ‘dusty old-jewel in the South Puget Sound.’ Case left home at fifteen, traveling around and eventually heading to the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver where she was enveloped by numerous bands, playing drums and singing. She recorded a few tracks with ‘The New Pornographers’, until finally embracing her own sound as an independent artist releasing brilliant albums like ‘ Canadian Amp’, which she recorded in her kitchen and ‘Blacklisted,’ both chock full of country covers and beautiful narrations.
‘Middle Cyclone’ joins the high ranks of these fabulous albums. Case’s aesthetic sensibility concerning both how an album and the tour to promote it should look is truly represented with ‘Middle Cyclone.’ When Case played The Ogden in Denver, she brought along her full band, a projector, and an endless reel of homemade videos to accompany her songs. The videos were mainly animation, and they were simply fabulous, especially the creation Case made to accompany her hit ‘People Got a Lot of Nerve,’ which showcased the gruesome adventures of many young cartoons. Case joked and laughed with her band and it was clear that they are a family of artists, collaborating and enjoying one another’s company. Her voice is as soulful and perfect in person as it is recorded, and she is a very natural singer. Even though my mom claimed that Case played with her signature red hair too much, she enjoyed the show. Neko Case attracts a varied clientele including my mother, a 'hot rod grannie' as she was nicknamed by a hipster concert bystander. Case draws all sorts and is one of the most interesting artists working today. I cannot wait to see what she will think of next.