Posts Tagged ‘Neko Case’

Treasures Buried In The Earth

April 18, 2009

It’s another brilliant day here in Southern Ontario and I’ve decided to make a playlist in the great radition of muic lovers everywhere.  Of course this used to be a mixtape, then mix CD, but now it’s an iPod playlist.  Some criteria:

1) The list will be 17 songs long. This is because its April 17th as I’m writing the post, and I remember that most of my exam time mix CD’s were that long.

2) Only one song per band. With the sheer number of groups in my collection it’s only fair.

3) At least 50% Cancon because I’m a good citizen. Well I guess in this case it’ll be at least 53% because I’ll have to include 9 Candian songs out of 17.

4) Everything in my collection is eligible regardless of genre, time, nationality, or personal back story. 

Now the list:

Is this Love? – Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah

When I first heard this band I wasn’t sure what to think of them.  Their singing isn’t what would traditionally be considered high caliber. It’s a little different than most. Nevermind that though, the song is great.  It’s a perfect way to kick off a warm spring day.

Lovesong – The Cure

Many of my friends are into The Cure.  They are one of those bands that people just seem to instantly love when they hear them.  This song, as the title indicates, is a classic love song, though in a style not always associated with romantic overtones.  I am convinced that The Cure are a band that would fit seamlessly into today’s indie music scene if they were brand new.

I Must Belong Somewhere – Bright Eyes

I believe I mentioned this song in one of my snow shovelling conversations on the podcast.  It is equally suitable now.  The simplicity of the melody and message allow your mind to wrap around the intersting lyrics.  It feels like a song that’s lounging on the porch.

Throwing It All Away – Genesis

Speaking of songs that lounge about, this classic Genesis tune displays the conplexity of a dysfuntional relationship. As someone who’s been there this song is almost liberating.  The positive vibe of the music is contrasted by Phil’s obvious sadness.  He knows that this is it, but isn’t sure what to do.  The common arguments: Who will light the darkness? Who will hold your hand? Who will find you the answers when you don’t understand? But he brings it full circle with the classic: Late at night when you call my name the only sound you’ll hear, is the sound of your voice calling, calling after me.

Emily Carr – The Wheat Pool

The first Canadian band (remember I owe you at least 8 more) brings a beautiful tune.  It’s such an effortless song by a great emerging band.  It contains stories about life, regular old life.  Road tripping across the prairies demands this song. Watch out for their next album due out within the year I believe. 

Wondering Where The Lions Are – Bruce Cockburn

Want to take a stroll on a nice day?  This song should set your gait for you.  Bruce strikes me as the kind of person whose spent a lot of sunny days outside, soaking in the atmosphere.  Wondering Where The Lions Are is a Canadian classic.  I think the line some kinda ecstasy got a hold on me is a perfect fit for this list.

Up On Cripple CreekThe Band

I’m counting this as a Canadian track because of the Canadian content in the group.  The Band were leaders in popularizing very rootsy rock from the southern US.  This song, a bit of a tall tale about nearly perfect love, Up On Cripple Creek is ideal for working on your car, building a fence, or hosting a BBQ. It just makes everything seem a little more effortless.

Where There’s a Will There’s a Whale Bone – Islands

Yesterday I dragged out my hockey net and spent an hour taking shots.  As soon as this song came on my attempts became harder and more deliberate. If I was a professional baseball pitcher this would be my entrance music.  I don’t know why I failed to realize the potential of this song for motivation, but it’s now part of my pre-sports listening.  Hard to argue with a song that mentions whale bone repeatedly.

Lost! – Coldplay

Please note this is the alternative version and not the original album one.  This is another great motivating song.  The lyrics really tell the tale: Just because I’m losing doesn’t mean I’m lost.  It should probably be in a sports movie right at the point that the underdohas reached rock bottom and is working hard to get back up.  It’s a great metaphor for my basketball team (now 0-10) as we try to bounce back in the last third of the season.  Spring means rebirth, so does this song.

Middle of Nowhere – Hot Hot Heat

This B.C. based indie band has given the world a catchy song about taking off to nowhere.  To give you something to go on, when I go off, back to the middle of nowhere

Mother and Child Reunion – Paul Simon

Any hope of seeing an S & G song are dashed by this track.  I absolutely love the organ in this song.  Paul Simon has a way of creating a song that is so full and rich without overcomplicating it.  This song, with it’s kind of bizarre lyrics is just such a song.  I’m swaying back and forth at the thought of it.

Cause = Time – Broken Social Scene

Probably my favourite BSS song for it’s up tempo beat and cynical lyrics.  I think what makes the band so great is there willingness to just try new ideas and be a bit wild in their songwriting.  In the end though this song is just great for rolling down the street with the windows down.

Something On The Tragically Hip

With the NHL Playoffs on I might’ve picked a couple of other Hip tunes for this list, but this is the one I like most for the context.  It strikes a nice balance between a rocking beat and a laid back feeling.  Much like Up On Cripple Creek  this song is appropriate for a myriad of outdoor activities.

 I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty

Maybe my head is filled with a need to fight back, but I’m including another song with a strong message for the underdog. You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down.

My Old Self – Wide Mouth Mason

Some songs are just so nostalgic you can’t ever escape them.  Pretty much anything from the first WMM album is that way for me.  It doesn’t hurt that this song puts me in the mood to be outisde, dancing around, or both.  I’m up in the kitchen singing, momma’s out in the backyard, daddy’s downstairs digging a grave.

 The Needle Has Landed – Neko Case

Perhaps this song would be better suited to an evening under the stars, but I like it in this list.  I think I could eat ice cream while listening to Neko Case and it’d feel like heaven.

In Perfect Time – Jill Barber

We come to a fitting end with a song about loss and life.   This Jill Barber song is my favourite of her work.  I would blame feeling down on the weather if I had no other reason to be. Thankfully that sentence does not apply to me today. I’m off to enjoy the sun.

An Elephant Never Forgets

April 12, 2009

I didn’t know what a brute I was.

Neko Case

Vengeance is Sleeping

I’ve given a lot of attention to CBC Radio 2 concerts on this blog.  With a couple of CBC Radio 3 hosts coming on the podcast in the next few weeks I thought I would dip into their archive a few times this month.  I’m starting with a recent appearance by Neko Case.  She is playing 5 tunes from her new album Middle Cyclone. I, like most people came to love the decidely retro musical stylings of Neko with her previous effort, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, and her earlier work with The New Pornographers.  She has a classic voice, like the sound of a 1950’s songstress, and plays very rootsy songs.  I have another performance of hers on CD and I may look at it later.  She has been around the Canadian music scene for many years, and although she was born in America, she fits in here just fine. If you are unfamiliar with her work, go here.

This in session appearance is somewhat stripped down to guitar, lead and harmony vocal.  I have yet to hear all of her new album (more of a case of lacking disposable income than anything else) but I certainly hope to soon.  As seems to usually be the case with Case the songs are short and succinct with only one braving the territory beyond the 3 minute mark.  She is such an effortless singer, and to me it seems that she doesn’t need to try to sound incredible.  I greatly appreciate that Case seems to shine in live performance as much as in the studio.  Some musicians sacrafice the quality of their performance when playing life, either through inferior musicianship or being caught up in the moment. Neko Case brings a top quality effort everytime.

As with her previous album, these tracks invoke images of starry nights in the desert and coast to coast road trips.  I don’t think she intends this, but that’s what happens in my mind.  If I was to make a movie about farm life during the great depression I would use Neko Case for my soundtrack.  I’m not implying that her music is depressing, but that it sets the perfect mood for life on the land.

Interestingly, during That Teenage Feeling Case ventures into using chords I’ve never heard from her.  The song has moments of what Leonard Cohen once called “major lifts,” and the guitar travels towards more familiar acoustic indie songs, reminiscient of Joel Plaskett for example.  I comment on it only because it was a surprise to me.

Of the 5 songs in this performance I had only heard People Got A Lotta Nerve.  I was not impressed with it when I first heard it, but this version seems a bit more enjoyable.  I have a sense it might be a song that grows on me over time.  Sometimes I find whole albums are that way, see my review of the latest Verve effort for an example.  Hold On Hold On was my favourite followed by Vengeance Is Sleeping.  The overall performance is a short distraction for a rainy day.