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Alternative country singer/songwriter Neko Case won a steadily growing cult audience for her smoky, sophisticated vocals and the downcast beauty of her music. Born in Alexandria, Virginia, Case moved around often as a child, spending the largest part of her youth in Tacoma, Washington. She left her parents at age 15, and three years later she started playing drums for several bands on the Northwest's punk rock scene. Case moved to Vancouver in 1994 to enter art school, and simultaneously joined the punk group Maow, which released a record on the Mint label. She also played with roots rockers the Weasles and eventually formed her own backing band, the Boyfriends, which initially featured alumni of the Softies, Zumpano, and Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet.
Case released her solo debut, The Virginian, in 1997, delving wholeheartedly into traditional country via a mix of covers and originals. She went on to perform with Carolyn Mark in the old-timey side project the Corn Sisters and began a long-running affiliation with the Vancouver indie supergroup the New Pornographers. Case completed her studies in 1998, and with her student visa expired, she returned to Washington and began work on her second solo album. The lovely, melancholy Furnace Room Lullaby was released on Bloodshot Records in 2000 and won high praise for its dark compositions, all of which were written or co-written by Case.
Case subsequently relocated to Chicago, home of a thriving alt-country scene, and released the home-recorded Canadian Amp EP in 2001. Its moody, late-night ambience carried over to 2002's Blacklisted, a darker yet more eclectic affair. Blacklisted garnered Case her strongest reviews yet, making many year-end critics' polls and landing her a tour slot opening for Nick Cave. In 2004, Case signed with Anti Records in the United States and released a live album, The Tigers Have Spoken, which was recorded during several dates with Canadian surf-country band the Sadies. She then returned to the studio to work on another studio album, a move that required her to take a break from the New Pornographers (with whom she had recorded and intermittently toured with since the band's inception).
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood followed in 2006 and fared moderately well on the Billboard charts, peaking at number 54 and introducing a wider audience to Case's dark, country-noir style. The concert recording Live from Austin, TX was released one year later, capturing a 2003 performance for Austin City Limits, and Case contributed vocals to the New Pornographers' Challengers before returning to her adopted hometown of Tucson, Arizona. Recording sessions for a new album took place in that home environment, as well as Brooklyn, Toronto, and Case's newly purchased farm in Vermont (where songs were tracked in a barn). The resulting album, Middle Cyclone, was released several months later in March 2009. 2010 saw the release of Together, the New Pornographers' fifth long-player, followed by Case's fifth solo outing, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, in 2013.
Neko Case (/ˈiːoʊ ˈeɪ/; born September 8, 1970) is an American singer-songwriter, best known for her solo career and her contributions as a member of the Canadian indie rock group The New Pornographers."Neko R Case, United States Public Records Index". FamilySearch. 251287385 (record number): Intellectual Reserve, Inc. November 15, 2007. Retrieved February 23, 2014. "unverified that middle name is Richelle, though online consensus indicates birthname is Neko Richelle Case" Thigpen, David E. (April 16, 2000). "Blows Against The Empire". Time Magazine. Retrieved November 7, 2013. Doole, Kerry (March 2009). "Features > Timeline > March 2009: Neko Case". Exclaim! Magazine. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
ContentsBiography1.1 Early life1.2 Music career1.2.1 Vancouver1.2.2 Seattle1.2.3 Chicago
Case, born in Alexandria, Virginia, is the daughter of Diana Mary Dubbs and James Bamford Case. Case's paternal family surname was originally Shevchenko.
Case's father, a Vietnam vet serving in the United States Air Force was based in Virginia. Her parents, teenagers when they had her, were of Ukrainian ancestry. Her parents divorced when Case began school.
Case had a nomadic childhood with her mother and stepfather, an archaeologist. She lived in Western Massachusetts, Vermont, Oregon and Washington. Her family traveled around while she was young before settling in Tacoma, Washington, the city she considers her hometown. She now lives in Vermont.
Case left home at 15. At 18 years of age, Case was living in Tacoma, becoming a drummer for Northwest area punk bands, the Del Logs and the Propanes. Case worked at a Tacoma punk club, the Community World Theater.
She attended the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, graduating with a BFA in 1998.
In 1994, Case moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, to attend the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. While attending school she played drums in several local bands, including the Del Logs, the Propanes, the Weasels, Cub (which featured I Am Spoonbender's Robynn Iwata), and Maow. All of these bands were local punk groups except for Cub and The Weasels, which Case described as a "country music supergroup".
"a lot of women wanted to play music because they were inspired, because it was an incredibly good time for music in the Northwest. There was a lot of clubs, a lot of bands, a lot of people coming through, a lot of all-ages stuff—it was a very exciting time to live there."
In 1998, Case graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, which meant the loss of her student visa eligibility. She left Canada for Seattle, Washington. Before leaving, Case recorded vocals for a few songs that ended up on Mass Romantic, The New Pornographers' first album. Her lead vocals on songs like "Letter from an Occupant" are straightforward, full-volume power-pop performances, entirely shedding any country elements. Released on November 28, 2000, Mass Romantic became a surprise success. Although the band was originally conceived as a side project for its members, The New Pornographers decided to tour and eventually to record a second, third, fourth, and fifth album.
In addition to recording with The New Pornographers, Case frequently collaborates with other Canadian musicians, including The Sadies and Carolyn Mark, and has recorded material by several noted Canadian songwriters, in particular on her 2001 EP Canadian Amp. As a result, she is also considered a significant figure in Canadian music—both CBC Radio 3 and the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada have referred to Case as an "honourary Canadian".
"I hope I can comfort people a bit—maybe show people that making music is fun and accessible to them as well. I'm not out to become Faith Hill, I never want to play an arena, and I never want to be on the MTV Video Music Awards, much less make a video with me in it. I would like to reach a larger audience and see the state of music change in favor of musicians and music fans in my lifetime. I care very much about that."
Case fully embraced country music on her 1997 album, The Virginian. The album contained original compositions as well as covers of songs by Ernest Tubb, Loretta Lynn and even the 1974 Queen song "Misfire". When the album was released, critics compared Case to honky-tonk singers like Lynn and Patsy Cline, and to rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson, particularly in her vocal timbre.
On February 22, 2000, Case released her second solo album, Furnace Room Lullaby. The album introduced the "country noir" elements that have defined Case's subsequent solo career. That tone was evident even from the cover photo, featuring Case sprawled out corpse-like on a concrete floor. On the album itself, her vocal style moves away from outright honky-tonk but retains her twang, garnering comparisons to musicians such as Cline, Lynn, Hazel Dickens, Tanya Tucker, and Dolly Parton. The title track was included on the soundtrack to Sam Raimi's film The Gift, and "Porchlight" was featured on the soundtrack to The Slaughter Rule.
Case sometimes tours with her friend Canadian singer and songwriter Carolyn Mark, as The Corn Sisters. One of their performances, at Seattle's Hattie's Hat restaurant in Ballard, was recorded and released as an album, The Other Women, on November 28, 2000.
In October 1999, around the time Furnace Room Lullaby was released, Case left Seattle for Chicago because she felt that Seattle was no longer hospitable to its local artists.
Case's first work in Chicago was an eight-song EP that she recorded in her kitchen. Canadian Amp, her first recording without Her Boyfriends, was released on her own Lady Pilot label in 2001. She wrote two of the tracks, with the remaining six being covers, including Neil Young's "Dreaming Man" and Hank Williams' "Alone and Forsaken". Four of the covers were written by Canadian artists. The EP was initially available only at Case's live shows and directly from Mint Records' website, but it eventually saw wider release.
Case recorded her third full-length album, Blacklisted, in Tucson, Arizona. Her first album credited to Case alone, without Her Boyfriends, it was released on August 20, 2002. Some believe the title Blacklisted alludes to Case being banned for life from the Grand Ole Opry because she took her shirt off during a performance on August 4, 2001 at one of their outdoors "Opry Plaza" concerts, though Case herself has denied this. Asked about the incident in 2004, Case said "I had heatstroke. People would love it to be a 'fuck you' punk thing. But it was actually a physical ailment thing."
Most of the album's fourteen songs are originals; the exceptions being covers of "Running Out of Fools", previously a hit for Aretha Franklin, and "Look for Me (I'll Be Around)" previously performed by Sarah Vaughan. Blacklisted finds Case even deeper in a "country noir" mood, and was described by critics as lush, bleak, and atmospheric. Case cited filmmaker David Lynch, composer Angelo Badalamenti, and Neil Young's soundtrack to the film Dead Man as influences. One track, "Deep Red Bells", was inspired by Case's memories of being a vulnerable young woman in the Seattle area while the Green River Killer was at large.
In April 2003, Case was voted the "Sexiest Babe of Indie Rock" in a Playboy.com internet poll, receiving 32% of the vote. Playboy asked her to pose nude for the magazine, but she declined their offer. She told Entertainment Weekly that "I didn't want to be the girl who posed in Playboy and then—by the way—made some music. I would be really fucking irritated if after a show somebody came up to me and handed me some naked picture of myself and wanted me to sign it instead of my CD." In later interviews, she declined to discuss the survey at all."Neko Richelle CASE (b. 8 Sep 1970)". Robert E Shaddy Family History. Retrieved November 7, 2013. Berick, Michael (February 7, 2005). "Department of Amazing Coincidences: Neko's Gripping Tale". Entertainment Weekly (806). Retrieved November 7, 2013. Matos, Michaelangelo. "Neko Case: Thrice All American" (Online music magazine). Perfect Sound Forever. Retrieved November 7, 2013. Cite error: The named reference ExclaimTimeline was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Neko Case: Honourary Canadian, Proud SOCAN Member By Jim Kelly, for www.socan.ca". Web.archive.org. 2003-01-19. Retrieved 2014-08-11. "Neko Noir by Julianne Shepherd - Seattle Music - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper". Thestranger.com. Retrieved 2014-08-11. Scanlon, Tom (2000-06-15). "Living | Country singer Neko Case is movin' on | Seattle Times Newspaper". Community.seattletimes.nwsource.com. Retrieved 2014-08-11.  Cooper, Leonie (March 13, 2009). "The banned played on". The Guardian. Retrieved February 2, 2011. "Neko Case's Country Lust: Neko Case : Rolling Stone". Web.archive.org. 2002-10-15. Retrieved 2014-08-11.  Matos, Michaelangelo (October 14, 2002). "Neko Case: Thrice All American". Perfect Sound Forever. Retrieved 2011-08-14. Valby, Karen (2003-06-06). "Gloves Off". EW.com. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
ContentsMusic projects1.1 Neko Case & Her Boyfriends1.2 New Pornographers1.3 Neko Case1.3.1 Blacklisted1.3.2 Live from Austin, TX1.3.3 The Tigers Have Spoken1.3.4 Fox Confessor Brings the Flood1.3.5 Middle Cyclone1.3.6 The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
Neko Case & Her Boyfriends
Case recorded and toured for several years as Neko Case & Her Boyfriends before performing solely under her name. She primarily performs her own material, but also performs and has recorded cover versions of songs by artists such as My Morning Jacket, Harry Nilsson, Loretta Lynn, Tom Waits, Nick Lowe, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Scott Walker, Randy Newman, Queen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Sparks and Hank Williams. Albums released included "The Virginian" and "Furnace Room Lullaby".
The New Pornographers' second album, Electric Version, was released on May 6, 2003. Case sang lead on even more of the songs on this album, and toured with the group again.
On April 3 and 4, 2004, Case played two shows with longtime collaborators The Sadies at Lee's Palace and an additional after-hours show at the Matador in Toronto, which were recorded for release as a live album, The Tigers Have Spoken, in October of the same year.
Twin Cinema, the New Pornographers' third album, was released on August 23, 2005, with Case again providing vocals on several tracks. In addition to providing backing vocals on several songs, Case performs lead vocals on two ballads, "The Bones of an Idol" and "These Are the Fables". She opted out of most subsequent touring duties with the band; however, her parts were taken over by Kathryn Calder.
On Challengers, released on August 21, 2007, Case contributes lead vocals to the title song as well as "Go Places", in addition to her backing vocals on the other tracks.
The 2010 album Together features Case as lead vocalist on "Crash Years" and "My Shepherd."
Blacklisted was released on Bloodshot Records in 2002. It included original material, as well as covers of songs originally by Aretha Franklin and Sarah Vaughan.
Live from Austin, TX
2003's Live from Austin, TX was a live album of recordings made for "Austin City Limits" television series.
The Tigers Have Spoken
The Tigers Have Spoken was released on Anti Records in 2004.
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood was released on March 7, 2006. The album was recorded primarily in Tucson, over the course of two years as Case worked on the live The Tigers Have Spoken and continued to play with The New Pornographers. Critics hailed the record not only for Case's trademark vocals but also her use of stark imagery and non-standard song structures. Fox Confessor Brings the Flood wound up on many "Best of 2006" lists, such as No.1 on the Amazon.com music editors' picks and No. 2 on NPR's All Songs Considered. The album debuted at No. 54 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It contains Case's most autobiographical song, "Hold On, Hold On". Case said: "the song is actually about me. It's not metaphorical about other people. It's not little pieces of my life made into a story about someone else or someone fictitious."
"Hold On, Hold On" has since been covered by Marianne Faithfull on her 2009 album Easy Come, Easy Go.
"Hold On, Hold On" was used over the ending of the last episode of the entire series of the The Killing (U.S. TV series) (Season 4 Episode 6) before the final credits.
Case's next album, Middle Cyclone, was released on March 3, 2009. In advance of a U.S. and European tour, Case appeared as a musical guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Later in 2009 she also appeared on Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Amazon.com rated Middle Cyclone the number one album of 2009. Middle Cyclone debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard charts in its first week of release, making it Case's first album ever to reach the top ten in the United States.
At the time of its release, no other record from an independent record company had debuted at a higher position in 2009. She toured extensively to promote Middle Cyclone with dates in North America, Europe, and Australia, as well as a performance at Lollapalooza 2009 in Grant Park, Chicago.
The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
In June 2013, Case announced a new album, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, which was released on September 3."Neko Case". Nicholasjennings.com. August 17, 2009. Retrieved 2013-09-02. "Together Credits". Ryan, Kyle. "Neko Case | Interview". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2010-07-10. "Easy Come, Easy Go track listing". allmusic.com. Retrieved September 2, 2011. "Amazon says Neko Case put out the best album in 2009". Brooklynvegan.com. November 6, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-10. Huntington, Tom (April 10, 2009). "Neko Case Retreats to Vermont". Times Argus. Retrieved June 10, 2009. Eakin, Marah (June 11, 2013). "Neko Case announces new record due out Sept. 3, just three days before she plays A.V. Fest". The A. V. Club.
Case was honored as the Female Artist of the Year at the Plug Independent Music Awards on February 2, 2006 and nominated for two Grammy Awards for her album, Middle Cyclone, including Best Contemporary Folk Album and Best Recording Package (with Kathleen Judge). In 2014, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards.
On August 9, 2003, Case made her debut on Austin City Limits.
On January 28, 2008, Case's voice appeared in the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Sirens". Case is also scheduled to participate in a new series with Aqua Teen Hunger Force co-creator Dave Willis titled Cheyenne Cinnamon and the Fantabulous Unicorn of Sugar Town Candy Fudge.
On March 3, 2010 Case appeared as a guest on the Australian musical quiz show Spicks and Specks. Her team, led by Alan Brough, won 18–16. At the end of the show she sang a cover of Heart's "Magic Man", backed by Kelly Hogan and Paul Rigby.
Case appeared on Spectacle: Elvis Costello with... in season two.
In July 2011, "I Wish I Was The Moon" was featured in the forth season of HBO show True Blood's sixth episode of the same name.
On September 3, 2013, Case appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon performing "Man" and "Night Still Comes" from her album "The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You".
In January 2014, she performed on Austin City Limits,
On February 6, 2014, she was a panelist on the Comedy Central show@midnight.
Neko Case appeared as a guest on NPR's weekly news quiz show, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on July 11, 2009. On September 6, 2013, Case appeared as a panelist on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me!.
On May 10, 2013 Case appeared as a guest in NPR's comedy show "Wits" where she ended the program with a rendition of Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast", on February 7, 2014 Case appeared again as a guest on NPR's comedy show Wits this time along side of Andy Richter where she finished the program with a rendition of ABBA's "Nights on Broadway". "True Blood: Season 4, Episode 6 : I Wish I Was the Moon (31 July 2011)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2014-08-11. "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: Season 3, Episode 188 : Episode #3.188 (29 November 2011)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2014-08-11. "Show Info: 2009-07-11 | Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Stats and Show Details". Wwdt.me. 2009-07-11. Retrieved 2014-08-11. "Show Info: 2013-09-07 | Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Stats and Show Details". Wwdt.me. 2013-09-07. Retrieved 2014-08-11.