Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Interpreter needed

I'm a big fan of Paste Magazine, particularly because of its excellent monthly sampler CDs. Thanks to those CDs, it's easy to be introduced to marvelous music like Neko Case's single, "Star Witness," off of her new album, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.

But every so often, one of the Paste reviewers starts speaking in strange tongues. Here, for instance, is William Bowers' review of Case's new album, pulled from the April/May issue:
In the same way Liam Neeson functions in the film world as gravitas-for-hire, the guest list for Neko Case's new album reads like a receipt from the tumbleweed-skiffle department of a Tuscon-area Rent-A-Cred; gracing this project are locals Howe Gelb, and Calexico, plus out-of-towners Kelly Hogan, Dexter Romweber and Garth Hudson, to name a few. Case, of course, still approximates a Northwestern Patsy Cline with a graduate degree, and while the stories she tells are mournful, her delivery remains buoyant. If an odd spiritual ("John Saw That Number") didn't reveal her hand, you couldn't be blamed for thinking Case was working to establish a new kind of magical-realist gospel, or Optimism Gothic. Despite the risk-avoidant, "for-grown-ups" tone of the arrangements, wrenching tunes such as "Dirty Knife" and "Lion's Jaws" easily teleport the listener to a mystical denim prom with a very dusty welcome mat and decorations inspired by an outsider artist's personal, widow-clogged Narnia.

Collective Improvisation:
Had him and then I lost him. I think it was "magical-realist gospel" that finally shook me.

If all you've heard from Fox Confessor is "Star Witness," you're missing out on some real gems. "Hold On, Hold On" is particularly tremendous. tremendous as a Narnia clogged with widows can be, I guess.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous on 5/10/2006 10:51:00 PM : Permalink  

That's around the point that I lost him too. By the time I reached "mystical denim prom," I was making the kinds of perplexed noises you might expect to hear from a bewildered Scooby Doo. Aarroooo?

Posted by Blogger Caleb McDaniel on 5/11/2006 07:04:00 AM : Permalink  

No idea what the heck that means either. But I do love the album. And if you get the chance to see her live, take it.

Posted by Blogger Scrivener on 5/12/2006 03:39:00 PM : Permalink  

Oh, I should add: if you get the chance to see her live, take it, even if there's some graduate student party you want to go to. ;)

Posted by Blogger Scrivener on 5/12/2006 03:40:00 PM : Permalink  

Ouch, Scriv. I can tell that I'm never going to live that down.

I'm definitely interested in hearing the whole Neko Case album, Bowers' Narnia-clogged review notwithstanding.

Posted by Blogger Caleb McDaniel on 5/12/2006 03:52:00 PM : Permalink  

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