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Neko Case and some very dear friends

BLACKLISTED (Bloodshot) • Neko Case

This chick is straight up unbelievable. A diva nova.

From the energy and charisma standpoint, she's the Janis Joplin of alt-country. But she's drop dead gorgeous, magnetic, sexy in the extreme. Her voice is strong, alluring and convincing. What's arresting about it is how wide open it is, her level of passion and reckless abandon. It's emotionally raw, but musically refined. Great tone, so expressive.

Neko came from the punk side of the tracks, Vancouver via Virginia. After troubled youth led to finding a place in the punk club scene of the Northwest, the love of the music led to playing drums, and eventually singing, first in the band Maow. Neko's first two solo alt-country records, The Virginian (1998) and Furnace Room Lullaby (2000) on Chicago's Bloodshot Records (Mint Records in Canada) were both critically acclaimed and spawned extensive tours of the US and Canada. Neko also tours and records with Canadian power pop group The New Pornographers and has a country duo with Carolyn Mark called The Corn Sisters. The backup band for Blacklisted (sometimes loosely called "Her Boyfriends") includes (in whole or in part) members of The Sadies, The Good Brothers, Calexico, and Giant Sand. (Not to mention a too rare appearance by Mary Margaret O'Hara, always a pleasure.)

Blacklisted is less twangy or rambunctious than her previous two efforts, and is reportedly more like a third that we haven't heard, Canadian Amp. It is more of a movie than a roller coaster ride, very moody, luscious and revealing. It's lush, ambient, lyrically emotional. The tracks sometimes tend toward the Lynchian or Angelo Badalamenti side of the harmonic spectrum, which suits the hell outta me.

We're sure that after you check out the clips of Neko on the Listen page, you'll find a spot for her in your rotation. One of the most interesting and overall outrageous singers we've run across in any genre. Buy it and other fine cutting edge country from Bloodshot Records. • FG

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