Middle Cyclone (2009)
|Artist: Neko Case|
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|Middle Cyclone was produced by Neko Case with Darryl Neudorf and recorded in Tucson, Brooklyn, Toronto, and Vermont. It features Case backed by her core band - guitarist Paul Rigby, bassist Tom V. Ray, backing vocalist Kelly Hogan, multi-instrumentalist Jon Rauhouse, and drummer Barry Mirochnick - along with numerous guests including M. Ward, Garth Hudson, Sarah Harmer, and members of The New Pornographers, Los Lobos, Calexico, The Sadies, Visqueen, The Lilys, and Giant Sand, among others. In addition to twelve new songs written by Case, Middle Cyclone includes covers of "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth" by Sparks, and "Don't Forget Me" by Harry Nilsson.|
In 2006, Spin Magazine called Case "one of pop music's best" voices, and Interview Magazine hailed her album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood as "one of the most original, beguiling, honest records of the year." The album also earned Case Female Artist of the Year honors from the Plug Independent Music Awards, and a Top 10 placement in the Village Voice's annual Pazz and Jop Critics Poll of the year's best releases. Fox Confessor was Case's first album to debut in the Billboard Top 100, and has sold nearly 200,000 copies in the U.S. alone.
Album Notes and Credits
Notes & Personnel Info
|Personnel: Neko Case (vocals, electric guitar, 8-string guitar, tambourine, background vocals); Sarah Harmer (vocals); Paul Rigby (guitar, acoustic guitar, acoustic 12-string guitar, electric guitar, electric 12-string guitar, dulcimer, piano, organ); Jon Rauhouse (guitar, acoustic guitar, steel guitar); M. Ward (guitar, acoustic guitar); Kurt Heasley (guitar, background vocals); Howe Gelb (electric guitar, piano); Dallas Good, Travis Good (electric guitar); Tara Szczygielski (violin); Joey Burns (cello); Garth Hudson (piano, organ); Steve Berlin (organ); John Convertino, Barry Mirochnick (drums); Lucy Roche, Kelly Hogan, Nora O'Connor, Rachel Flotard, Carl Newman, Carolyn Mark (background vocals); Ryan Boyles, John Collins, Kathryn Calder, Blaine Thurier, Tom V. Ray.|
|Audio Mixers: Darryl Neudorf; Neko Case.|
|Recording information: Batty Steer, Mono Center, Ontario, Canada; Neko Case's barn; Seaside Lounge, Brooklyn, NY; Wall To Wall, Chicago, IL; Wavelab, Tucson, AZ.|
|Photographers: Jason Creps; Neko Case.|
|Arranger: Paul Rigby.|
|Indie/alt-country songwriter-goddess Neko Case is nothing if not a chameleon, capable of wrapping herself around soulful twang, snotty 'tude, or bouyant teen energy. But if there's a thread running through her work, it's her undeniable magnetism as a poet. And on CYCLONE, by fully embracing the theme of love for the first time in her career, she transforms herself into an almost mystically insightful weaver of romantic imagery. On "Polar Nettles" in particular, Case effortlessly unravels the tale of a woman so powerful that she acts as a centrifuge spinning out the sun's rays. Guests range from M. Ward to her co-members from the New Pornographers, but like Dolly Parton during her early-'70s heyday, there is no mistaking who the moment belongs to. Whether it's the title track's subdued, folky rumination on the fears of facing happiness or the dramatic, Stevie Nicks gypsy-pop of penultimate track "Red Tide," Case's musical presence is, in fact, a CYCLONE OF unforgettable emotion.|
Producer: Neko Case
Engineer: Ryan Boyles; Chris Shreenan-Dyck
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|Release Date : 06/23/2009|
|Original Release Date : 2009|
|Catalog ID : 86973|
|Label : Anti (USA)|
|Number of Discs : 1|
|Studio/Live : Studio|
|Mono/Stereo : Stereo|
|SPAR Code : n/a|
|UPC : 00045778697328|
- 4 stars out of 5 -- "[H]ypnotic alt-country twang, with reverb-slathered guitars ringing out over music box plinks and moaning cellos."
- Ranked #15 in Spin's "40 Best Albums Of 2009" -- "Behind the heat, there's real soul."
- "[A] pleasantly swirling strum and twang of guitars, gentle percussion, and That Voice." -- Grade: B
- 4 stars out of 5 -- "'People Got A Lotta Nerve' is all animal magnetism with a big, chirping chorus, exercising her bright range. 'Marais La Nuit' ends the record with 40 minutes of the sounds of a marsh at night."
- 4 stars out of 5 -- "Case is an intriguing writer and coolly commanding singer who delivers every syllable without flaw in pitch, timbre and phrasing."
- 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "With the help of a frog chorus and an 'orchestra' of six derelict pianos, plus melodic populism, spaghetti-Western riffs and jokes, she's made a record about ecology and love..."
- "Her voice can knock you over -- it's one of the strongest in any genre....MIDDLE CYCLONE is another strong entry....A culmination of some of the lyrical and musical concerns she's been exploring since BLACKLISTED..."
- "These songs are stronger, better conceived and even more impressively performed. Once again, Case's trademark countrified pipes define each song..."
- 4 stars out of 5 -- "It's more than just country; it's a glorious pop album with roots in classic rock, folk, Motown and more."
There's a special challenge to being an artist in this increasingly fractured cultural age; a delicate balancing act, between being of your time, and striving for timelessness. Few contemporary artists even try. Neko Case is an exception.
Case's last album, 2006's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, brought her to that nexus where critical acclaim meets commercial success. But Case's impact can't be measured merely in chart placements or press plaudits. It's her ability to connect - on an uncommonly deep and meaningful level - with her audience. She's one those artists, you see: the kind whose songs linger in your head, your heart and soul long after the record has stopped spinning.
While Case's creative evolution has made for an impressive story so far, she's about to write the most remarkable chapter in that continuing saga with the release of her sixth studio album, Middle Cyclone.
The tornado that blows through the title and several songs on Middle Cyclone is an apt metaphor. Neko has famously taken her own twisted route, lighting for a time in the South, in the West, in the Northwest, in Canada, flirting with as many musical styles as homes. She is settled - or unsettled - in Tucson for the moment, with dreams of moving fulltime to the former dairy farm she owns in Vermont. She recorded the new album in both locations, as well as studios in Toronto and Brooklyn.
For Case, the beauty of making music, of creating, is that it remains a mysterious, confounding and, occasionally, contradictory process. "When I toured for Fox Confessor one of the things I said in interviews about that record was that I don't like writing love songs, that I can't write them," she recalls. "Of course, as soon as I said that, I ended up writing a bunch of love songs."
It should be noted here that Case's "love songs" are not the typical boy-meets-girl variety, as the opening track, "This Tornado Loves You," dramatically attests. "What would it be like to be pursued by a force of nature?" asks Case. "That's a frightening and exciting prospect."
Case resists the temptation to see the tornado as metaphor for something more personal, like a destructive relationship from her past. "Of course, I'm fine if people want to interpret it that way, but for me, the song is very literal," she says.