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Middle Cyclone
     

Middle Cyclone

4.7 10
by Neko Case
 

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Neko Case looks formidable on the cover of Middle Cyclone, brandishing a sword in one hand while crouching low on the hood of a muscle car. It's mostly camp, of course -- the sort of superwoman image that Quentin Tarantino might have used for Death Proof's ad campaign -- but it also draws contrast with Case's past

Overview

Neko Case looks formidable on the cover of Middle Cyclone, brandishing a sword in one hand while crouching low on the hood of a muscle car. It's mostly camp, of course -- the sort of superwoman image that Quentin Tarantino might have used for Death Proof's ad campaign -- but it also draws contrast with Case's past albums, two of which featured moody shots of the songwriter sprawled on the floor, ostensibly knocked out. Middle Cyclone isn't the polar opposite of Blacklisted's downcast Americana; there are still moments of heartbreak on this release, and Case channels the sad cowgirl blues with all the nuance of Patsy Cline. Multiple years in the New Pornographers' lineup have brightened her outlook, though, and Middle Cyclone balances its melancholia with some of the most pop-influenced choruses of Case's career. "I'm a man-man-maneater," she sings on "People Got a Lotta Nerve," a snappy gem of vocal harmonies and jangled guitars. The mammal metaphors continue with "I'm an Animal," where a coed choir hums a wordless, hooky refrain. These songs are still filled with earth tones -- they may even pitch their tent closer to the folk camp than Carl Newman's power pop -- but their venture into brighter territory is a confident one. Of course, Neko Case already explored the animal world with 2006's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, and Middle Cyclone devotes more time to weather, nature, and the stormy atmospherics provided by her backup band. There are few voices as haunting as Case's alto, and she flaunts her vocal chops over a number of semi-ballads, from the cinematic "Prison Girls" (a country-noir love letter to someone with "long shadows and gunpowder eyes") to the sparse title track. She does a surprise duet with chirping birds during "Polar Nettles" -- a result of the pastoral recording sessions, which took place in a barn -- before tackling a cover of Sparks' "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth," whose title very well may be the album's mission statement. There's still room to tackle love from the perspective of different characters -- a man in "Vengeance Is Sleeping," a disbeliever in "The Next Time You Say Forever," a smitten wind vortex in "This Tornado Loves You" -- but nature remains at the forefront of Middle Cyclone, whose 14 songs conclude with a half-hour field recording of noisy crickets and frogs. Moody and engaging throughout, Cyclone is another tour de force from Neko Case, if not as immediately arresting as Fox Confessor.

Editorial Reviews

USA Today
Delightfully fresh, in both senses of the word.
New York Times Magazine - Daniel Menaker
“Middle Cyclone” — named after the area near the middle of a tornado in which air rushes straight up — comes close to immediate accessibility, but it is never pat, never ear Splenda. It has a Brechtian-sounding love song in march rhythm, two or three waltzes, a sweet Byrds-like salvo of opening guitars and vocal effects from wild to coy.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/03/2009
Label:
Anti
UPC:
0045778697328
catalogNumber:
86973
Rank:
24220

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Neko Case   Primary Artist,Electric Guitar,Tambourine,Vocals,Background Vocals,8-string Guitar
Steve Berlin   Organ,Saxophone,MIDI Sax
Joey Burns   Bass,Cello,Bowed Bass
Kelly Hogan   Background Vocals
Garth Hudson   Organ,Piano
Carl Newman   Background Vocals,Choir, Chorus
John Convertino   Drums
Howe Gelb   Piano,Electric Guitar
Sarah Harmer   Vocals
Kurt Heasley   Guitar,Background Vocals,Choir, Chorus
Jon Rauhouse   Acoustic Guitar,Pedal Steel Guitar,Hawaiian Guitar,Hawaiian Lap Steel Guitar
Dallas Good   Electric Guitar,Fuzz Guitar
Travis Good   Electric Guitar
Carolyn Mark   Background Vocals
Nora O'Connor   Background Vocals
M. Ward   Acoustic Guitar
Rachel Flotard   Background Vocals,Choir, Chorus
Tom V. Ray   Bass Guitar
Barry Mirochnick   Drums
Paul Rigby   Organ,Dulcimer,Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Electric Guitar,Music Box,Guitar (12 String Electric),Guitar (12 String Acoustic)
Lucy Roche   Background Vocals
Tara Szczygielski   Violin
Carloyn Mark   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Harry Nilsson   Composer
Ron Mael   Composer
Neko Case   Composer,Executive Producer,Artwork,Audio Production,Drawing
Craig Schumacher   overdub engineer
Chris Schultz   overdub engineer
Sadies   Composer
Nick Luca   overdub engineer
Paul Rigby   Arranger
Robert Myers   Photo Courtesy
Lewis Stillwell   Photo Courtesy

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Middle Cyclone 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have thoroughly enjoyed this album. Being a more recent fan of Neko, I fell in love with her Blacklisted album. This is certainly a continuance of her Fox Confessor sound -- easy to listen to, easy to love. There isn't a song on this album that I dislike. She is one unbelievably talented woman. Her voice gives me chills...good ones. If you enjoyed Blacklisted or Fox Confessor, I reckon this is right up your alley!
BrianP More than 1 year ago
As always, Neko is experimenting with different sounds and has created yet another masterpiece in her style. It's hard to describe her work in comparison to anything else as it stands out and alone from all other artists, but this album is fantastic. Staying away from all conventions, she creates sounds, lines and rythms not found any where else in music today and unfortunately, you don't hear these real gems of musical creativity on commercial radio. Her beautiful voice and soulful, even haunting, lyrics really reach into a person's soul and make your mind reel for a deeper understanding of such a passion for creativity and our connections to this world. Neko's voice, by itself, is something to behold--add in beautiful song writing, instrumentals and back-ups and you have a work of art. I highly recommend this album, along with all of her previous works.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This record demands repeated listenings. Without a doubt, one of the best records of the decade. The sequencing and pacing is perfect. Push play on your Cd player and let this album reveal its endearing charms, hooks, lyrics, and Neko's wonderful voice. A masterpiece.
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