Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Seems I Have the Same Musical Taste as McManus

From the March 2006 GQ (U.S. edition):

The Case for Neko Case.

by Michael Crowley

The flame-haired siren from the New Pornographers talks about her new album, her problem with "alt-country," and . . . Playboy?

Neko Case once took off her shirt onstage at the Grand Ole Opry, and she does belong to a group called the New Pornographers, but don't get the wrong idea. Case ditched the shirt at the Opry only because she was sweltering hot, and you probably know that the New Pornographers are an excellent Canadian indie band specializing in euphoric pop anthems. Though Case is perhaps best known for her Porno career, that should change this month with the release of Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, the fourth solo album from the copper-haired singer, which confirms her as one of pop's most enchanting voices.

Born in Virginia and raised in Tacoma, Washington, Case started out as a punk rocker until she fell under the twin influences of gospel and country that define her sound today. But don't call Case "alt-country." She prefers "country noir"—a perfect term to describe music that's darker and more mysterious than plain old cowgirl tunes. On Fox Confessor, Case seems to channel Loretta Lynn via David Lynch: At turns husky and sweet, Case's huge voice soars to cosmic heights and plunges to sultry depths with the backing of gentle percussion and watery guitars. Case's songs often tell bleak tales, about everything from her desolate former hometown to "pretty girls" who get dragged through "saccharine gutters." (For inspiration on this latest album, Case mined Ukrainian fairy tales, of all things.)

New Pornographers fans accustomed to Case's sunnier side may take some time to adjust to her melancholy solo life. And while that band (whose members she met while studying up north in Vancouver) did wonders for Case's profile, balancing a band and a stand-alone career has been tough. "It's like two full-time jobs," she sighs. "The Pornographers and I have had to figure out how to make that work. It's impossible on a days-of-the-year level and impossible on a human level. If you're gone from home a lot, you will start exhibiting signs of mental illness." Case's workload fatigue, however, hasn't dampened the enthusiasm of her growing legion of fans. Not long ago, Case was named the Sexiest Babe in Indie Rock in a readers' poll (a fan of the adult magazine, she was asked if she'd pose, and after claiming she'd "consider it," she said she was too shy). Lately, Case has been receiving the ultimate signifier of rock-star sex appeal: underwear tossed at her feet. "Men and ladies!" she notes. "At a certain point, I wondered if people were bringing extra because they knew they were supposed to throw it."

Neko on country music "I like old country music a lot, like Loretta Lynn. It's funny, because country music has this stigma of being this really sexist, redneck thing. But at that time, country had women playing guitars all over."

Neko on Canada "Canada is very exciting! As a person who works in music and art, I think they're a lot more multicultural than we are. But I take a lot of shit for being an American."

Neko on David Lynch "I like all Lynch's movies, but I have a real soft spot for Lost Highway. I read the mos thorrible reviews of it, but when Mulholland Dr. came out it got great reviews. They seem so very similar. Did people like Mulholland Dr. more because there were naked lesbian sex scenes in it? Did that make it artier?"--M.C.

Tasteful picture here.

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