Archive for the Neko Case Category

Links and such…

Posted in Alison Krauss, Buddy and Julie Miller, Neko Case, Robert Plant, Scott Miller, Tennessee Shines, The Steeldrivers, youtube on December 9, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

Just a few links to get you through the week…

* Scott Miller has made his new CD For Crying Out Loud available for pre-order at his website. Only 1,000 copies will be offered between now and December 17th online and at Miller’s shows… and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Orders placed before the 17th should arrive by Christmas. If you don’t get in on the pre-order, then you have to wait until March for the official release. All pre-order copies also include an enhanced CD feature with a twenty minute video on the making of the album that will not be on the official release. Oh yeah… Patty Griffin appears on the album as well. Get yours now.

* A couple of local acts have been added to this month’s edition of Tennessee Shines. Knoxville’s own Alex Leach and the Watauga Mountain Boys, Todd Steed and the Sons of Phere, and Christabel and The Jons will join Elizabeth Cook and The Hackensaw Boys for the show on New Year’s Eve. As always, the show will be hosted by Jim Lauderdale and broadcast live on WDVX.

* In my Top 5 post on Neko Case, I mentioned that she has just finished recording her new album. Well… the album now has a name (Middle Cyclone), a release date (March 3), and a killer album cover…

* March 3rd is also the release date for Buddy and Julie Miller’s newest effort, Written in Chalk. It comes eight years after their last collaboration, the self titled, Buddy and Julie Miller. Julie has been in ill health for the last few years, and it will be great to hear her voice once again. Julie wrote the majority of the songs on the album, and friends Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, and Robert Plant come along for the ride on the album. Here’s a taste of that 2001 release…

Buddy and Julie Miller: Forever has Come to an End (Buy Album)

* Speaking of Robert Plant… The nominees for the 51st Annual Grammy Awards were announced last week, and the world of Americana was well represented. The Robert Plant and Alison Krauss collaboration that took home two wins at the Americana Music Awards in September, is now nominated for five Grammys… including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Pop Collaboration with Vocals, Country Collaboration with Vocals, and Contemporary Folk/Americana Album. Competition in the Americana category includes Joan Baez, Ry Cooder, Rodney Crowell, and Emmylou Harris.

* The biggest news for me on the Grammy front, however, is the news that The Steeldrivers have been nominated for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for the song, “Blue Side of the Mountain.” As long-time readers know, Steeldrivers’ lead singer Chris Stapleton is an old high school buddy of mine, and I could not be more thrilled for the success he is having in Nashville.

Friday Top 5: Neko Case

Posted in Neko Case, Top 5 on November 14, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

Has it really been a week already? Sorry for the lack of updates. I’ve been a bit busy, and at times a bit under the weather. Hopefully, I’ll be back up to full speed soon.

I don’t really have a list anywhere of artists that I should write about more in this space. I probably should, but I don’t. If I did… today’s subject would be near the top of the list. If I were being honest, I would probably admit that I haven’t written about Neko Case and her music yet because I’m not sure I have the words to do her justice.

Neko has one of those voices that can transport you from wherever you are to wherever she wants you to be. When she sings of her adopted home in the Pacific Northwest as she does in “Thrice All American,” you can smell the factory dust in the air. When she hits the dance floor as she does in “Honky Tonk Hiccups,” she pulls you out on the floor along with her.

Perhaps the best description of Neko that I have ever read is that she sounds like the ghost of Patsy Cline (I wish I could remember where I got that from). There is a resonance and grandeur to her vocals that you just don’t find too often. She can breathe fire on one track and then soothe your soul with a hushed whisper on the next. There is also an ethereal quality to her voice that can sound ghostly at times… almost as though it isn’t real. But it is real. I had the privilege of seeing Neko perform a few years ago in Lexington (on a night she claimed to have a cold), and her vocal instrument is just as pure live as is it on record.

Neko’s overall sound originally drew heavily on classic country while still keeping a fresh edge that updated the classic sounds. As she progressed from album to album, however, the nostalgia began to melt away and her own unique style was formed. As we progress here from 1997’s The Virginian to 2006’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, you’ll be able to hear Neko’s evolution as an artist.

We’ll start with two songs that I’ve already mentioned here: “Honky Tonk Hiccups” from The Virginian and “Thrice All American” from 2000’s Furnace Room Lullaby.

The Virginian is Neko’s debut album and certainly owes a large debt to the early stars of country music. On this disc she covers Ernest Tubb, Loretta Lynn, and The Everly Brothers while also adding a few originals and some less well-known covers. “Honky Tonk Hiccups” is nothing more than a rocking honky tonk number meant to fill the dance floor. Hey… it’s fun, and it does what it’s meant to do.

Neko Case: Honky Tonk Hiccups (Buy Album)

Furnace Room Lullaby found Neko’s sound maturing a bit. The country influence is still strong… but subdued and understated. Neko also starts to lean more upon her own pen on this record. She wrote or cowrote all twelve tracks, including this one about her adopted home of Tacoma, WA (Neko is originally from Virginia).

Neko Case: Thrice All American (Buy Album)

In 2002, Neko released the album that many consider to be her greatest work, Blacklisted. Where The Virginian was made up of mostly cover songs and Furnace Room Lullaby found Neko cowriting most of the songs, Blacklisted finds her going it almost completely alone. Ten of the album’s 13 songs are solo compositions. The finest of those is “Deep Red Bells,” a song about the Green River Killer who murdered nearly 50 women in the Seattle and Tacoma areas in the 1980’s. Neko was a teenage runaway in the Seattle area in the late 80’s while the Green River Killer was still at large. She must have been affected by the killings.

Neko Case: Deep Red Bells (Buy Album)

Neko’s next album was 2004’s live effort The Tigers Have Spoken. On this set, Neko is backed by Canadian group The Sadies as well as previous collaborators Jon Rauhouse on steel guitar and Kelly Hogan on vocals. The album provides a very accurate snapshot of the Neko Case concert experience while mixing a healthy dose of cover songs with a few original tunes. This is one of the originals.

Neko Case: If You Knew (Buy Album)

The Sadies stuck around for 2006’s studio effort Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. Some other friends also stopped by for the recording… including Garth Hudson from The Band and Howie Gelb of Giant Sand. Rauhouse and Hogan are once again part of the proceedings as well. With this album you can really see the strides made since her debut. It is textured and layered in a way that none of her previous albums were. Neko has just finished recording her newest album at a studio in Toronto, and I can’t wait to hear what strides she makes with her newest effort. I guess I’ll just have to “Hold On, Hold On” until it’s released.

Neko Case: Hold On, Hold On (Buy Album)