12 June 2009

Neko Case Redheadstravaganza on Conan Tonight...

David Fricke wrote a review of Nirvana's In Utero back in 1993, and one line from it stuck out so much that I remember it fifteen years later.

"'Heart Shaped Box' is a song the Stone Temple Pilots couldn't have written with detailed instructions."

Man, that's so true, and I think probably could have been the entire review. "So everyone's starting to sound like them, but they're still in another league."

Neko Case played Conan tonight, and everyone who knows me knows I've been just running her new album Middle Cyclone non-stop and specifically my favorite song on the album "This Tornado Loves You."

"This Tornado Loves You" is a really great piece of writing with a lot of really cool, evocative lines about relationships and storms and whatever else it's about- the title itself is probably the best line from the song. "My love I am the speed of sound/ I left them motherless/ fatherless/ Their souls they hang inside-out from their mouths"- she gets there on a different road, but Neko Case reminds me of PJ Harvey in her ability to put together an album of compelling writing that's really vulnerable but, at the same time, remarkable displays of strength. I mean, read that line again. That is fucking badass.

But the actual tune to this song- the structure, the chords, the way it builds without a real significant change in dynamics- is why that Fricke quote pops into my head anytime I hear it. The song sort of flows like a body of water, moving between different sections without really explicitly making anything a "verse" or "refrain" or "bridge." There's the opening section, which seems to alternate between what seems like a verse and the "I want you" sections, but then the second verse comes in and it changes it's structure a bit, followed by, again, the "I want you" chorus which, here at the end of the first third of the song- never pops up again. It just hits these spots without really making any indication that things have changed- the chords just fit so nicely together and- fuck, I don't know, it just sounds great. Neko Case's albums always sound great, though. Writing a song like this is difficult just because, at three-and-a-half minutes, any level of "busy-ness" isn't going to read well. But though she's made such a simple, beautiful song very complex and unique- it's still simple and beautiful.

Especially her voice. There's a part of the song- it's just a part, I'm not totally sure what to call it- but there's this one bit where her voice just sounds transcendently beautiful. "Come out to meet me/ Run out to meet me/ Come IN TO THE LI-IGHT." Her voice just takes off, really effortlessly too. I just love her voice.

Check out her new record, and hug a redhead today.

Here's her performance from Letterman, where I thought she sounded better, although it contains 50% less ginger at the end, so tread lightly!

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