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Neko Case – Middle Cyclone


Neko Case – Middle Cyclone (Anti Records; released March 3rd, 2009)

“You’re not a music expert- just because you like something doesn’t make your word the be-all-end-all of music criticism. You like a lot of stuff that I think is shitty. You think you have good taste but listen to this crap…”

This is a brief paraphrasing of a conversation me and my girlfriend had the other day in the car, I think I took her Ramones CD out to put in emo-brats Brand New (I have no shame in admitting I love their album Deja Entendu, so I’m ridiculously guilty of having questionable taste). I’m kind of always harping on bands people like- it’s a fault I have and I can’t really get over it. I judge people on two aspects- well three, but I have certain ones assigned to gender.

For men; what you listen to and what kind of handshake you have. If you listen to death metal yet have a handshake like a wet fish, you’re obviously trying to hide your effeminate streak. You could listen to show tunes but have a firm handshake; and I’ll think you’re the most stand-up, respectful queer I’ve ever met. (Is queer offensive? Is that one of those things I can only say if I’m gay? Fine, I’m gay today.)

How does my shallow self judge women? There’s what you listen to, what sport you follow (baseball will get you the most points, football the least- actually; if you’re a woman and you like football you get negative points because there’s way too many rules and shit. I know you don’t understand it, you’re just trying to be “cute”. Or slutty. Every other sport is okay to follow- I find a lot of women like basketball; it’s entertaining and really easy to understand.) and the third litmus test on how I judge a woman’s worth: fingernails. If you bite ’em and they’re all shitty and what not; I can bet your life is a mess. If they’re taken care of, all shiny and done up; that’s a chick that cares. I’ve found that when your life starts to unravel, the first thing to get destroyed is the fingernails. Having your fingers in your mouth, chomping away at ’em; that woman will fuck your life up, guys.

(Editorial note: my fingernails are for shit; and there’s no way I actually think any of the things I just wrote. It’s called “irony” and this post is full of it.)

Just in case you were wondering why I’ve wasted something like 370 words on the intro without any mention of Neko Case‘s fantastic new album, there’s not going to be much of a review. This is more of a rant. It’s Neko Case; you know it’s fucking good. Look at her:


Okay, here’s a disclaimer: I was trying to (unsuccessfully) say that the media attaches a tag to some female artists based solely on the way they look- some writers (especially in mainstream media outlets) disregard the fact that Miss Case (being labeled as a “sexy chanteuse” and her appearing in this lingerie doesn’t help) is immensely talented. I thought I was being ironic but it came across as cold and sexist. I apologize to anyone offended.

It’s funny that I really like Neko Case, as well as Destroyer and AC Newman‘s solo stuff, yet I can’t stand The New Pornographers– there’s a band that is clearly not as great as the sum of its parts. Why is that? I should, by all rational explanation, love that band. I can’t stand them. Strange.

I think I know why I don’t like them- they sound like everybody else. That’s why I like Dan Bejar and Neko Case; they don’t sound like anybody else. They sound like a perfect combination of their influences, updated for a generation that’s so jaded and pessimistic, half of us have blogs now.

Anyway, most of me and my girlfriend’s music arguments center around the main point that we listen to nothing in common. She loves The Boss, The Ramones, Dead Moon, Pinhead Gunpowder and Jawbreaker. She’s also turned me on to some really great music like King Khan & The Shrines and The Sonics. She’s got a really great record collection, too. But we don’t see eye-to-eye musically, which is awesome to me because we challenge each other’s ideas of “taste”. I would say all her music is very similar (The Ramones have one song, which they proceeded to re-write another 300 times, actually that’s my definition of punk rock in general- you know it’s true) and she would tell me Morrissey is a pussy (more of a bitch I’d say) and that The National and Arcade Fire are both rip-offs of Bruce (which is partially true; they’re just not as boring). And I love our arguments over music.

Again; this last paragraph is also full of irony- I love me some punk rock. In fact, I just got back from the No Age show at Bottom Of The Hill, and I’m going to see Les Savy Fav in a few hours. If those bands haven’t cribbed their whole existence from punk, then I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.

She, however, does not like Neko Case. Something about her voice; which is exactly why I love her. Go figure. I can understand why people don’t like country or its bastard child “alt-country”; it’s a pretty limiting genre in general. With the exception of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, it is all really similar. It’s almost all in 4/4 (or common time for you hillbilly folk) and completely guitar-centric; a bass note on the first count, followed by a chord strum on the second, followed by a fifth note (as an alternating bass note) on the third count and finishing the measure on another strum; that patented head-swaying “boom-chik” rhythm that country’s known for.

So, Middle Cyclone review, where are you? I’m already at 800 words and I said nothing of importance about the actual record, just basically posted a bunch of links and went kind of crazy on you. Sometimes music criticism is just that; un-important, vapid, knee-jerk cynicism and various witty (or un-witty) responses about music.

This is music criticism in a nutshell- it really doesn’t matter at all. If it did; this page would get more visitors and we’d have some sort of revenue stream from it. If anything, I’m guilty of being (charmingly) stupid, but not ignorant. And your favorite band totally sucks.

I like Neko Case‘s Middle Cyclone. I think you should listen to it. Here’s the making of the album in less than seven minutes:


Here’s the album:

1.  This Tornado Loves You
2.  The Next Time You Say Forever
3.  People Got A Lotta Nerve
4.  Polar Nettles
5.  Vengeance Is Sleeping
6.  Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth
7.  Middle Cyclone
8.  Fever
9.  Magpie To The Morning
10. I’m An Animal
11. Prison Girls
12. Don’t Forget Me
13. The Pharaohs
14. Red Tide
15. Marais La Nuit

Neko Case

So my whole point was to show:

a) how I am no expert in anything

b) music criticism is pointless

c) sex sells records- although when you have talent it shouldn’t matter


d) I chose “irony” as a lifestyle choice because living authentically is so over-rated