Posts Tagged ‘Cat Power’

Cat Power was originally the name of Chan Marshall’s first band, but has become her stage name as a solo artist. Born in Atlanta, Marshall was raised throughout the southern United States, and began performing in local bands in Atlanta in the early 1990s. Marshall grew up in a chaotic, poor family with a largely absent blues musician father and a mother from whom she would later become estranged. She has written about alcoholism, violence and assault and, on one song – “Black” she sings of running all the way upstairs, to escape someone who “threw me in the bath with an ice and a slap / can of Coke down my throat / on his whole hands and knees”.

She was discovered opening for Liz Phair in 1993 by Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth and Tim Foljahn of Two Dollar Guitar, with whom she recorded her first two albums, Dear Sir (1995) and Myra Lee (1996), on the same day in 1994. In 1996, she signed with Matador Records, and released a third album of new material with Shelley and Foljahn, What Would the Community Think. Following this, she released the critically acclaimed Moon Pix (1998), recorded with members of Dirty Three, and The Covers Record (2000), a collection of sparsely arranged cover songs.

After a brief hiatus she released You Are Free (2003), featuring guest musicians Dave Grohl and Eddie Vedder, followed by the Soul music influenced The Greatest (2006), recorded with numerous Memphis studio musicians. A second album of cover tracks, Jukebox, was released in 2008. In 2012 she released the self-produced Sun, the highest charting album of her career to date.

Critics have noted the constant evolution of Cat Power’s sound, with a “mix of punk, folk and blues” on her earliest albums, and elements of soul and other genres more prevalent in her later material. Her 2012 album Sun incorporated electronica in a self-proclaimed move from the “slower” guitar-based songs she initially wrote for the album. If you’re a fan of Cat Power’s music, you might be thinking: “Well, hang on a minute, she was drunk the last time I saw her live, in fact she turned her back on the audience, muttered something inaudible, stopped in the middle of three songs and then walked off.” Such erraticism is indeed something her live shows became known for; in her own life there were psychotic breakdowns, and she went to rehab for alcohol and prescription-drug addiction. Her diehard fans never wavered, though. For them, to know Cat Power’s heartbreaking, raw music is to love her unconditionally, giving her a rightfully elevated position in the American alt-rock scene

The complete recorded works of Georgia by way of New York, South Carolina and Miami artist Cat Power, reveal’s a complicated artist, and a highly unpredictable one. Yet throughout Marshall’s career, she’s maintained a singular sense of bluesy melancholy that remains a staple of who she is as a songwriter.

Dear Sir (1995)

Cat Power’s first album doesn’t reveal much of what her future held, aside from the fact that there’s a certain sense of walls-closing-in tension. Dear Sir is a lo-fi indie rock record like almost any other lo-fi indie rock record of the mid ’90s, except a notch or two better ,drummer Steve Shelley and guitarist Tim Foljahn amplify the nervous energy that Marshall’s songwriting holds, and you can already tell that voice she has is capable of expressing the kind of resonant emotion-over-virtuosity weariness of which artists typically nail the balance when they’re twice the age she is here. The version of Cat Power that Chan Marshall debuted on first album Dear Sir is, in essence, fairly similar to what she’s done all along, just much more stripped down and on a smaller budget. But at its heart, the connection remains — a bluesy, melancholy approach that comes wrapped up in a lot of soul and a lot of tears. Aesthetically, though, Dear Sir is mostly a low-key, lo-fi indie rock album that displays Chan Marshall’s songwriting at its rawest,

The Tom Waits song “Yesterday Is Here,” cowritten by Kathleen Brennan and originally from Franks Wild Years, is Marshall’s first great recognizable cover. While the arrangement doesn’t start out too far from the original’s staggering minimalist junk shop blues, it’s a brief but intense and unexpected turn into a monomaniacal motorik beat (if that motor threw a rod). This rendition shows off the way Marshall’s voice can turn her surroundings into shaky ground.

Undercover EP (1996)

This track, from a brief session in Portland, has a funny story behind it (at least if the YouTube comments are to be believed). Apparently, as Marshall was on her way to the studio to record Undercover, she changed her mind about one of the songs she wanted to record, and scrapped something she had planned in favor of Dead Moon’s “Johnny’s Got A Gun.” As a result, she spent her drive to the studio studying a copy of Dead Moon’s Defiance LP to memorize the song’s lyrics.

That’s how Marshall took one of the most underrated garage-punk protest songs of the ’90s and found a way to make her quiet intensity sound as capable of busting through walls as Toody Cole’s amplified snarl did. It’s a kind of sloppy-spontaneous performance — she omits the first verse and forgets the words to the last but damn, it works.

Myra Lee (1996)

Released only six months after Dear Sir, and what would be her second album of three in a one-year span, Myra Lee is considerably darker and more complex than its predecessor, but at the same time, a good measure more difficult. It can’t be a complete coincidence that Steve Shelley plays on this album, which sounds frequently like the dissonant songs of early Sonic Youth. Nonetheless, Marshall’s bluesy, folk-influenced songwriting still remains the focus, but presented in a considerably more gothic fashion. Its opening track, “Enough,” speeds up and slows down in pursuit of a nervous breakdown more than a climax, which grows even more intense when re-recorded for the same year’s What Would The Community Think. Similarly, “We All Die” is a harsh noise rock trip that follows a descending riff into the underworld. The cover this time around is a sparse, jangly take on Hank Williams’ “Still In Love,” and the re-recorded version of “Rockets” continues a tradition of revisiting old songs, which comes up repeatedly through Marshall’s career (Dear Sir‘s “Headlights,” itself was a reprise of an early single). There’s a little more complexity to Myra Lee, though Marshall is still one album away from really tapping into the kind of affecting songwriting that made her later albums such emotional powerhouses.

Hank Williams had dealt with pain his entire life from spina bifida, and when a fall made it worse in 1951 a few months after “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You)” hit No2 on the Billboard country singles chart — he started to self-medicate the only way a traveling musician in the early ’50s could find, namely alcohol and a cocktail of painkillers, up to and including morphine.

Whether or not that’s the Hank Williams that Marshall had in mind when she recorded her version, it’s the one that might come to mind thinking about the chronic illness and depression-related alcohol abuse she had to fight through over the years to get to where is is today. But think of the artist foremost, here the country love song deftly reimagined as the cream of ’90s indie rock, concealing a deep wistfulness in what half-listens might disguise as amateurishly played affectless calm. Instead, it’s an actual manifestation of feeling so completely defeated by heartbreak that you can’t even get the focus to play it tight.

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What Would the Community Think (1996)

With two albums released in less than a year, Chan Marshall had transitioned from Steve Shelley’s Smells Like Records to the bigger indie Matador Records, which is where she revealed her first flat-out great record. On a purely aesthetic scale, “What Would The Community Think” is cut from the same cloth as its predecessors. It features the same musicians, maintains the same production style, and even has some of the same songs Myra Lee‘s “Enough” is made into an even more manic and climactic track here in the penultimate slot. But the songwriting here is stronger and more sophisticated. “Good Clean Fun” seems always on the verge of snapping, its tense verses extending into some dangerous places before finally revealing a chorus that references Carly Simon and never actually explodes. “Taking People” has some gorgeous slide leads, and “Nude As the News” is one of the most intense and intensely personal songs in the entire Cat Power catalog. It comes from a place of genuine struggle and anguish, as it was written about Marshall’s own experience having an abortion when she was 20.

Chan Marshall’s second album under the name Cat Power, a lo-fi recording at maverick Doug Easley’s Memphis studio, her soft, engagingly shy voice and delicate acoustSc guitar supported by Easley’s pedal steel and Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley’s percussion. though Easley and Shelley are better known for working with much louder, noisier artists than Marshall, they never overpower her sensitive but sturdy material. sounding more self-assured than she did on her debut, 1995’s ‘Dear Sir’, Marshall invests more passion and fire in songs like the foreboding ‘Water and Air’ and the obsessive, feedback and piano-laced title track than one expects to find in the slacker-friendly lo-fi genre. elsewhere, the delicate ‘King Rides By’ is an unvarnished love song that packs an equally powerful emotional wallop. this is an outstanding, underrated album.

There are, of course, a few covers, which likewise make for some strong inclusions, particularly Marshall’s take on Smog’s “Bathysphere.” Smog’s Bill Callahan was her boyfriend at the time, and the two would move in together in a house in South Carolina, though that didn’t last. Callahan has a long history of writing outstanding songs, though in this case, Marshall’s is the definitive one.

This isn’t the first time Cat Power paid tribute to Peter Jefferies — there was a cover of “Sleepwalker,” by his post-punk band This Kind Of Punishment, on Dear Sir  but this cover from her breakthrough first album on Matador is bound to be a lot of people’s introduction to the New Zealand musician, mine included.

It’s clear from the original version of “Fate Of The Human Carbine” why Marshall might have considered Jefferies something of a kindred artist. The restrained anxiety in this performance, paired with the lyrics’ implication of a panopticon that needs to be hidden from (“They all come and peep through a hole in the wall/ Keep the bastards guessing”), is the sort of feeling that permeates Cat Power’s best early work. Paring back Jefferies’ intricate guitar technique into a serrated-edge acoustic churn adds some panic to the melancholy.

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Moon Pix (1998)

Moon Pix is possibily Cat Power’s best album. This is, of course, entirely arguable. There is no qualitative way of proving it, and there are just as many entirely valid defenses for many of Chan Marshall’s other records, though “You Are Free” is probably the one that stands up strongest against this one. Moon Pix isn’t a victory because it’s the most perfectly executed, This is the classic, spooky and off kilter album from Cat Power. Chan adopts a kind of child-visionary persona, delivering an idiosyncratic mixture of surreal, direct, and insinuating lyrics that are enough to rend your heart the more you hear them. her voice is husky yet pure at the same time, and she’s at her best with minimal instrumentation, just her stark vocals and a muffled guitar, sounding like the saddest, most hopeful person on earth singing to herself in an empty room. originally released in September 1998 on Matador.

It sounds great, though later albums like “The Greatest” would prove that bigger recording budgets could, in fact, greatly enhance Cat Power’s sonic potential. What makes “Moon Pix” so special, really, is that it nearly perfectly encapsulates everything so bewitching about Chan Marshall’s dark, honest songwriting.

Playing the 20th-anniversary concert of her album”Moon Pix” in the Sydney Opera House in May. It’s an album that she wrote, inspired by a nightmare when living alone in a farmhouse, and recorded in Australia in 1998, which was then described by Rolling Stone as her “breakthrough record”. The concert cemented something in her head about her own sanity; her own power. Marshall met so many fans who wanted to tell her what certain songs helped them through: a brother’s suicide, madness, loss. The more stories she heard, the more she realised what her small act of creation had achieved. Plus, she found a power in the songs themselves that didn’t fit with her memory of the girl who had written them decades earlier. “I didn’t know I loved myself then, when I was younger. But when we played them, I realised the great love that I had had for myself. Those songs had been me trying to prove to myself,

Moon Pix is where Cat Power’s strengths as a musician and an idea-generator saw her established (dis)comfort zone of indie/folk/punk expand into a more sure-footed place, with lusher arrangements and a rhythm section with more breathing room (via Mick Turner and Jim White of the Dirty Three). On this album, Marshall traded claustrophobia for wide-open vistas. It’s an immersive, even welcoming record, which is pretty noteworthy considering half the original songs were written to stave off the harrowing aftereffects of a hallucinatory nightmare. “I felt as if something was coming fast, straight from under the earth, these dark spirits … then they came, thousands of them, all up against the kitchen window. They were clear, black as night, trying to get into my soul. That’s when I grabbed my acoustic guitar. I thought that if people found my body, I needed to leave a tape. So I just played the songs that became Moon Pix. It was horrifying.”

The one cover on Moon Pix is a traditional folk song, “Moonshiner,” but the liner notes state that it was “inspired by The Bob Dylan.” Marshall revealed in a recent interview, that she remembered hearing his version at around age 25: “I was so in love with this person who was so abusive. I just came to terms with it recently. He was a good man, he just had a lot of demons. He put this on, and it validated my pain, and listening somehow took the pain away. ‘Moonshiner’ was the softest bed I could ever lie on. I felt validated, realized.” But then you hear how weary and lost she sounds in this version, and look into what she adds to the lyrics: “You’re already in hell, you’re already in hell/ I wish we could go to hell.”

What makes the album all the more interesting is the chilling gothic atmosphere that seeps through every track, as it does on the crackle of thunder in “Say,” or the eerie flute that accompanies “He Turns Down.” In doing press for the album, Marshall tells a recurring tale in which she’s awoken by someone in a field in South Carolina, becomes surrounded by evil spirits and starts writing songs to keep from altogether losing it.

The Covers Record (2000)

“The Covers Record”, it’s her finest album, though it’s certainly stunning in its spare, skeletal beauty. Rather, it’s a key album in getting a better insight into who Chan Marshall is as a musician and a songwriter. That probably sounds counter intuitive – gaining insight into a songwriter’s persona via other people’s songs but it’s through her choice of covers that the composite picture of Marshall’s various influences, and the manner in which she applies her own filters. Half of the album comprises either standards or traditional folk songs from the public domain, including a gorgeously spare take on “Sea of Love” and a haunting, tearjerker of a take on “Wild Is the Wind.” Her choice of rock covers is all the more revealing, however. In Marshall’s hands, Velvet Underground’s “I Found a Reason” goes from a heartfelt love song to a statement of faith and acceptance of death.

Recently repressed on vinyl, these are covers of other people’s songs. yet she sings them with no less intensity than if they were her own. on ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’ she removes the chorus and returns it as elegant slow blues. Most appropriately, she covers ‘Red Apples’ by Smog whom she resembles in approach. obscure (traditional and early) Dylan, Nina Simone and Michael Hurley tunes complement the bruised but not buried surroundings. originally released in march 2000 on Matador Records. 

The first of two covers albums Marshall recorded in the ’00s,”The Covers Record” is right about where dramatic re-interpretations of other people’s songs went from an occasional fascinating diversion into a distinct corner of Marshall’s career. Her version of the Rolling Stones’ most iconic song is a gutsy way to open a record otherwise marked by folkier offerings, and looks out of place on a tracklist otherwise devoted to traditional songs and deep cuts from Smog and Moby Grape.

Looks, maybe, but not sounds: If you’re going to cover one of the most famous songs in rock ‘n’ roll, and it’s already been famously covered by DEVO, why not do the inverse of what they went for and go for ennui in place of monomania? No rhythm section, no chorus, not even That Riff — just a meditation on what happens when the initial youthful energy that accompanies that burst of frustration eventually disintegrates and you’re just left with the lingering downer effects of all these outside influences battering your sense of self.

“The Covers Record” is one of Marshall’s most emotional records, part of which comes from how stripped down it is, and part of which comes from Marshall’s connection to the songs, which is remarkably different from that of their original performers. More than any other album in her catalog, it’s a reflection of how crucial traditional American blues and folk music is on Chan Marshall’s songwriting.

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You Are Free (2003)

In a manner of speaking, “You Are Free” is Cat Power’s breakup album with fame. Every artist with some level of success goes through it, from Neil Young’s On the Beach to Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait. But Marshall’s kiss-off to being held on a pedestal, which has only compounded in recent years with some uncomfortably forthcoming interviews (which come to think of it make her kind of a rock star for being so anti-glamour), is neither as angry as Young’s nor as shambling as Dylan’s. In fact, “You Are Free” is second only to “Moon Pix” in terms of being Marshall’s most cohesive and powerful statement. It also, ironically, is the album with the most famous guest musicians. Eddie Vedder lends his backing vocals to “Good Woman,” a sad chamber folk song that chills with its gentle narration of a crumbling domestic scene. Its instrumentation is stripped down to the skeleton, her ethereal voice not so much haunting as spooky.

By the time Cat Power got to this song by Greenwich Village vet-folkie Michael Hurley, he’d already recorded studio versions of it in four different decades.

Each version feels a little different, but they all share that sense of empathy for a misunderstood monster, and Cat Power’s version adds another layer of pathos. There’s the way those strings — arranged by David Campbell, who did the same for Linda Ronstadt, Leonard Cohen, and (his son) Beck — tremble into existence, bristling and swaying and taking an air of perilous tightrope balance that simultaneously invokes horror movie tension and romantic tragedy. There’s also the fact that Marshall’s habit of stripping out any lyrics that don’t fit the mood she’s putting across leaves “Werewolf” without any of the violence implied by the original: All the pain’s in the love itself.

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The Greatest (2006)

Almost anything that Cat Power has recorded could in some way be classified as sad and beautiful, but in the case of “The Greatest”, it’s sad and beautiful in a much more conventional manner. Which is to say, it’s a classic pop album.  To capture this rich, soulful aesthetic, Marshall recorded in Memphis with some of the biggest session players of the ’60s and ’70s, including Leroy and Mabon “Teenie” Hodges, who are best known for backing Al Green. As such, it garnered a few Dusty In Memphis comparisons upon release, which is perfectly fitting given the brassy, breezy soul of songs like “Could We” and “Living Proof,” the latter of which ranks among Marshall’s sexiest tunes, rhythmically speaking. But the vulnerability that’s been part of her music remains, it just manifests itself in different ways, from the third-person tale of a boxing hopeful on the lush, heartbreaking title track (“Once I wanted to be the greatest/ Two fists of solid rock/ With brains that could explain any feeling“) to the more conventionally Cat Power-sounding “Hate,” with almost satire-level lines of self-loathing: “I said hate me, myself and I / Said I hate myself and I want to die.” The unexpected peak, however, comes in the final track, “Love & Communication,” which abandons the lushly arranged pop sound for a dirty, Crazy Horse-style barnburner that at once finds Marshall sounding both abrasively defiant and perfectly natural.

Teaming Cat Power with the Hi team who recorded behind Ann Peebles and Al Green was an unexpected and brilliant idea. A special alchemy took place at Ardent Studios in Memphis which enhanced both Cat Power’s gorgeous smoky voice and the soulful groove the band has laid down. I would say that that it was worth the price of the album just for the majestic opening song, The Greatest, were it not that it is also available as a single, but that would be to unfairly demean the rest of the record. Of course Cat Power does not need embellishment, as is demonstrated on the unadorned song Hate. Cat’s most accomplished album to date.

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Jukebox (2008)

Cat Power’s first album of covers, The Covers Record, was mesmerizing in how simply Chan Marshall took on various rock and folk songs from a wide range of eras, and made them entirely her own. Jukebox is another album entirely comprising covers, including a cover of a Cat Power song, but the feeling isn’t nearly as enchanting. The idea, admittedly, is cool: Marshall and the Dirty Delta Blues Band, which made up the touring band she used behind The Greatest that featured members of The Dirty Three, Chavez and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, play a loose and soulful session of covers. That’s it! Simple, easy, hard to ruin. But something about it just doesn’t add up to the gorgeous, charming collection that The Covers Record did. In fact, some of it is downright corny. The band’s take on Frank Sinatra’s “New York” takes a light, breezy standard and attempts to make it grittier, which in turn only makes it cornier. Her cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” is cool enough, but doesn’t quite match the graceful sadness of the original. But the biggest point of contention is her reworking of Moon Pix‘s “Metal Heart.” Granted, five out of nine Cat Power albums feature a song in its second version, but this one feels utterly unnecessary. The original is so achingly gorgeous, I’m not sure why you’d want to mess with it, but then again, this is something she’s been known to do repeatedly, so why stop now, I guess. The remainder of the album is fine enough, but Jukebox on the whole seems like it could have been divided up in to b-sides.

Jukebox features a great version of Nick Cave’s ‘Breathless’. Cat Power returned with ‘Jukebox’, It was her second album of cover songs and a tribute to the great vocalists who have influenced her over the years. recorded in Dallas, Memphis and Miami with Stu Sikes (who also worked on Loretta Lynn’s grammy-winning ‘van lear rose’), ‘Jukebox’ contains thirteen tracks, eleven of which are covers. the other two tracks – ‘Song to Bobby’, is brand new and a suitable inclusion as she wrote it about meeting Bob Dylan for the first time (it also precedes her version of ‘I Believe in You’ on this record) plus a new version of Cat Power’s own ‘Metal Heart’. this is the first record she has made with her band Dirty Delta Blues – the quartet of Dirty Three’s Jim White, delta 72’s Gregg Foreman, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s Judah Bauer and Lizard Music’s Erik Paparozzi – and they make up a big part of this album.

Also making guest appearances on the record are Spooner Oldham , Larry Mcdonald, Teenie Hodges, and Matt Sweeney (chavez). the album includes covers of Frank Sinatra, Hank Williams, James Brown, Dylan, Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin etc.

Marshall singled out Hot Boys’ ’99 album Guerilla Warfare as a revelation: “At that time there was so much music that my friends were making that had no groove in it, so I just wanted something I could fuckin’ move to.” But you can’t move to this version of Guerilla Warfare cut “I Feel” unless you’re rocking in place, which is just as well. Stripping out most of the specificity of the original’s references while keeping the emotional core of its pacing-in-a-tiny-room stress, it treats its source material not as an excuse to slum it in gangsta exoticism but to zero in on what it is in those lyrics that she can connect to directly: defiance in the face of people who refuse to even comprehend you.

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Sun (2012)

As of 2012, Chan Marshall is a grown-ass woman of 40, and a good listen through Sun, her ninth album, certainly reflects that. It’s a much tighter album than her 2008 covers jam Jukebox, and even a more dynamic record than The Greatest, which admittedly contained some of her prettiest songs. But what’s most important about Sun is how much Marshall challenges herself to expand into weirder but nonetheless remarkable material. Lead single “Ruin” makes good use of the Dirty Delta Blues Band by kicking up a driving rock song that makes for one of the album’s catchiest tracks. Pulsing krautrocker “Manhattan” is somewhere between Neu! and Eno, and that makes for a particularly satisfying surprise. But then “Silent Machine” just tears shit up the old fashioned way with some down and dirty blues rock. Sun is quintessential Cat Power, but also contains some of the least Cat Power-sounding material she’s ever recorded. For that matter, as evident on the sprawling “Nothin’ But Time,” Marshall sounds more positive than she ever has, and that seems to reflect her personal life, in which she seems to be in a much healthier place than she has through much of her career. A complicated performer with a long and nonetheless captivating history, Cat Power continues to stand as a vessel for fearless and powerful songwriting.

Six years after her last album of original material (‘the Greatest’, 2006), Chan Marshall moved on from her collaborative forays into memphis soul and delta blues. she wrote, played, recorded and produced the entirety of ‘Sun’ by herself, a statement of complete control that is echoed in the songs’ themes. Marshall calls ‘Sun’ – “a rebirth,” which is exactly what this confident, ambitious, charismatic record feels like. “Moon Pix (1998) was about extreme isolation and survival in the crazy struggle,” she says. “Sun is don’t look back, pick up, and go confidently into your own future, to personal power and fulfilment.” the music on ‘Sun’ employs a sweeping stylistic palette: there’s the classic Cat Power haunting guitar and provocative vocal hook in ‘Cherokee’ (“marry me to the sky…bury me upside down”); the irresistible latin-sounding nine-piano loop of ‘ruin’; upbeat, almost dancey electronic anthems like ‘Real Life’ and ‘3,6,9’; and the stirring, 8-minute epic ‘Nothin But Time,’ featuring a vocal cameo by Iggy Pop. the swagger of ‘Silent Machine’ brings to mind mid-70s Jagger, contrasted with the unusual, sparse production of ‘Always On My Own’. the narrative arc of the record is deeply optimistic; the music is defiantly modern and global. though devoid of grave bedroom confessionals, ‘Sun’ is possibly Cat Power’s most personal album to date. for all its layered expansiveness, it is as handcrafted as her debut, and never has a Cat Power album so paralleled her personality and state of mind – channelling her humour, anger, deep empathy, musical inspirations, technical skill, and spiritual inquiry into an album that’s both surprising and comforting. those versed in the Cat Power discography will detect elements of 2003’s landmark album ‘You Are Free’, which experimented with vocal forms and beats borrowed from urban music, and the spellbinding authority of songs like ‘American Flag’. ‘Sun’ is incredibly fresh, reflecting its forward-looking mindset.

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Wanderer (2018)

“Wanderer” is her 10th album release. Her old record label, Matador Records , wanted her last album, Sun, “to be a hit record, and the pressure was overwhelming”. So she moved to Domino Recordings, where she felt she could have “some kind of sacred, secret space with this record. I didn’t want to think about what anybody else wanted. I only wanted to think about what arrived in my brain.”Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) produced “Wanderer” herself, writing and recording it’s 11 tracks in Miami and Los Angeles. Lana Del Rey guests on one track! Richly glorious vocals sing folk for indie kids. Almost Appalachian harmonies are the icing on a homemade cake of indefinable sweetness. Gently tender songs trickle and flow like dancing sunlight. Splashes of piano, loping guitar and a quivering Rhodes help to wrap up the songs in a parcel of loveliness.

Wanderer is, in many ways, a quintessential Cat Power record, with Marshall’s clarion voice front and center in a set of songs that remarkably stark and straightforward. But, if old Cat Power records might easily have been viewed as repositories for pain, Wanderer is, at its heart, a testament to the transformative nature of songs, an album-length imagining of alternate paths, redemptions, connections, and open-ended possibility.

Cat Power, the vocalist, songwriter, musician, and producer Chan Marshall released her new album “Wanderer” via Domino Recordings. Produced in its entirety by Marshall, “Wanderer” includes appearances by long-time friends and compatriots, as well as guest vocals courtesy of friend and recent tour-mate Lana Del Rey. Written and recorded in Miami and Los Angeles over the course of the last few years, the new album Wanderer is a remarkable return from an iconic American voice. “Wanderer’s” 11 tracks encompass “my journey so far,” says Marshall. “The course my life has taken in this journey – going from town to town, with my guitar, telling my tale; with reverence to the people who did this generations before me. Folk singers, blues singers, and everything in between. They were all wanderers, and I am lucky to be among them.”

The albums:

Dear Sir (1995)
Myra Lee (1996)
What Would the Community Think (1996)
Moon Pix (1998)
The Covers Record (2000)
You Are Free (2003)
The Greatest (2006)
Jukebox (2008)
Sun (2012)
Wanderer (2018)

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Cat Power has announced that she will be playing a string of dates across Europe and the US this summer, including performances at Glastonbury Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Latitude, and Hyde Park alongside Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Accompanying the announcement, she has also released a new video for the song “Horizon”, which is taken from last year’s album, Wanderer.

“Horizon” is the fourth track off Cat Power’s 2018 Wanderer album to get a music video. Directed by Greg Hunt, the “Horizon” video alternates between scenes in black and white and in color.

As Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall, is seen playing her guitar and singing, we catch glimpses of her real-life friends and loved ones, including the pro skater Sean Pablo, the model Tess Sahara, and the actress and artist Lucia Ribisi. produced entirely by Marshall, marks the artist’s first album in six years.

“Horizon” features on ‘Wanderer’, the latest album from Cat Power, out now on Domino Recordings.

Way back in July last year, Cat Power announced she had her tenth album “ready to go“. Now almost a year later, the follow up to her 2012 album Sun has been announced. Wanderer  released on October 5th via Domino.

The trailer for the new album, accompanied by new music. From what we’ve heard so far, it’s a step back into her folk rock roots. A big change after Sun which featured a lot of electronic elements.

Produced entirely by Chan Marshall AKA Cat Power herself, the album features guest vocals from Lana Del Rey whom Marshall was recently supporting on tour. The new record tells the story of “my journey so far” over 11 tracks says Marshall. “The course my life has taken in this journey – going from town to town, with my guitar, telling my tale; with reverence to the people who did this generations before me. Folk singers, blues singers, and everything in between. They were all wanderers, and I am lucky to be among them.”

In 2006, Chan Marshall was visiting a shop in Memphis when she happened upon an instrument—not necessarily one that most readers of this magazine would find covetable—that spoke to her. It was an abused, no-name nylon-string that cost only $40. Marshall, who performs under the stage name Cat Power (borrowed from a trucker’s hat decorated with the phrase Cat Diesel Power), has since relied on the instrument as her songwriting muse, and she used its subdued voice to excellent effect on her latest album, Wanderer, her first in six years.

At 46, Marshall, whose first name is pronounced Shawn, has long been an indie-rock icon. After a childhood spent in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, where she absorbed the region’s Baptist, blues, and country sounds, she moved to New York City in 1992 and was exposed to an entirely different scene of free jazz and improvisation. Her earliest shows in the city were semi-improvised, but beginning with her first full-length album, 1995’s Dear Sir—which she recorded with Tim Foljahn (Two Dollar Guitar) and Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth)—she focused on her songcraft.

On the strength of her earliest efforts, Marshall was signed to Matador Records, a premier indie-rock label. Over the course of seven albums for Matador—from 1996’s What Would the Community Think to 2012’s Sunshe laid the groundwork for contemporary independent singers like Phoebe Bridgers and Angel Olsen.

With songs like “The Greatest,” “Good Woman,” and “American Flag,” Marshall has created a body of work that is both strong and fragile—music that, in contrast to much indie rock, draws frequently from blues, country, and gospel.

Marshall’s guitar work—on the acoustic or her customary Danelectro or Silvertone—has always been a study in understatement. On the electric, she plays chiming, reverb-drenched parts, with rolling arpeggios and the occasional off-kilter harmony that perfectly complement her soulful, whiskey-toned vocals.

She was once known for sometimes-erratic performances, owing to anxieties and struggles with substance abuse, but in recent years she has made some transformations. Marshall recently cut ties with Matador, due to mutual creative differences. In interviews, Marshall’s explained that when she presented her latest album to the label, an executive played her an Adele recording to demonstrate how he thought it should sound. That obviously did not go over well.

At the same time, Marshall has stepped into the role of single mother. Her toddler son appears on the cover of Wanderer, next to the neck of her Danelectro. Motherhood has put her in a protective and nurturing place, which is apparent in the album’s generally quiet and cozy vibewith guitar- and piano-based songs that are produced much more sparsely than those on Sun, with its shimmering electronic layers.

The record will be supported by an international tour, For many years Cat Power had a reputation for disappointing live performances and cancelling tours. However in recent years, her performances have become more consistent.

Chan Marshall last visited to perform her album Moon Pix in full. The one off show was in celebration of the album’s 20th anniversary. Moon Pixwas recorded in Melbourne and is often referred to as her breakthrough album.

‘Wanderer’ is the new album from Cat Power, released 5th October on Domino Record Co.

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The album of the week shines in every facet of its existence. Phosphorescent (aka Matthew Houck) has meticulously crafted an intensely warm album of americana pop, drawing together a multitude of instrumental textures – from guitars and pedal steels, to synths, to his own voice – and yoking them into perfect harmony. his lush melodies are executed with the utmost sincerity, giving his music a widescreen poignancy.

There are many more tasty treats out this week…big thief vocalist Adrianne Lenker has struck out on her own with an absolute pearl of an album. sweet & understated, this collection of songs poured out of her in the moments between performing & practicing with her band, resulting in her most intimate work yet. that’s on very limited glow-in-the-dark vinyl, for people who like to listen with the lights off. picking up the tempo a little, Molly Burch’s country pop sophomore features that same beautiful, warbling voice channelled through a stronger, more confident set of songs founded upon indelible melodies.. we’ve also been loving the debut from kentucky’s the Other Years, whose angelically pure vocal harmonies, underpinned by a sweet backing of violin & banjo, are a thing of simple beauty. this is the perfect album to come home to after a strenuous day – trust. predictably, Cat Power’s new album is a stone-cold stunner! her largely acoustic set of folk-tinged, blues-tinted songs continue to prove her to be one of the strongest songwriters working today.

Further recomendations Throwing Muses’ Kristin Hersh delivers another powerful solo album of darkly melodic scuzz-songwriting Will Hoge injects his rumbly-voiced country with an invigorating dash of soul and an exhilarating bolt of rock bravado;  it’s also worth knowing that Blood Orange’s ‘negro swan’ is finally in on vinyl, amy helm’s red vinyl lp has finally popped in & settled its round little body into our shelves. & Marie Davidson’s excellent new record – which had me & mark jiving away.

Reissues this week, Bloc Party‘s classic debut ‘silent alarm’ arrives for the very first time on sturdy 180 gram vinyl. john Lennon’s ‘imagine’ gets a new stereo remaster, along with a bounty of alternate mixes & alternate takes that offer tremendous insight into his recording process. and possibily the greatest guitar album ever Television’s very seminal ‘Marquee Moon’ is in on blue vinyl, with a bonus disc of alternate versions – yum!

Imagine (2018 reissue)

John Lennon  –  Imagine (2018 reissue)

this truly unique edition of one of the most iconic albums of all time sees the timeless record remastered with a new stereo remix and some additional non-album singles.

digging through extensive archival content, Yoko and her team deliver us an incredibly personal journey through the entire songwriting and recording process – from the very first writing and demo sessions at John’s home studio at tittenhurst park through to the final co-production with Phil Spector – providing a remarkable testament of the lives of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in their own words. ***the deluxe 2cd comes with an extensive bonus disc of different mixes, demos and alternate takes. *** ***the super deluxe boxset comes with an incredibly vast array of different mixes, demos and alternate takes, the restored ‘Imagine’ and ‘Gimme Some Truth’ films and a 120 page hardcover book documenting the album’s creation***

Abysskiss

Adrianne Lenker – Abysskiss

the big thief vocalist lays down a mesmerising set of songs that are hushed & disarmingly intimate, in which we climb into her consciousness without encountering any barriers & revel in the sweet beauty of her gentle melancholy.

the songs chosen for this collection were the songs that felt the most alive in the room. these are not castaways or b-sides. some of these songs have been alive for years while some were written just days before the recording session. with this collection, Lenker further illuminates to the listening public that she is a songwriter of the highest order, following her voice & the greater voices that pass through her with an unflinching openness & clarity of translation. “it’s an invitation to peer into the hidden spaces of an extraordinary modern songwriter, where calm & quiet moment prompt superlative work”

C’est La Vie

Phosphorescent  –  C’est La Vie

Matthew Houck has crafted an electrifying collection of songs that blend a dreamy, psychedelic americana aesthetic with solid pop foundations that never fail to engage.

this album reveals a crystallisation of what made ‘Muchacho’ such a breakout record release — a little sweetness and a little menace, sometimes boot-stomping and sometimes meditative. the magic of Matthew Houck’s music has always been the way he weaves shimmering, almost golden-sounding threads through elemental, salt-of-the-earth sounds. it’s not experimental, exactly, but it’s singular and it’s definitely not traditional. that knack, the through-line across the phosphorescent catalogue, is front and centre here. fans of bon iver, iron and wine, bonnie prince billy, damien jurado and okkervil river will love this! “songs of experience make up Matthew Houck’s heavenly seventh”

First Flower

Molly Burch  –  First Flower

a walk through Molly Burch’s most intimate thoughts – broken friendships, sibling relationships and overwhelming anxiety – ‘First Flower’ is a bright, beautiful album peppered with moments of triumph with Burch’s voice as strong and dexterous as ever.

opening track “Candy” is a swinging, playful hit, while “Wild” deals with pushing away fear. title track “First Flower” is classic Burch, a simple love song that gives you goosebumps when she breaks into the chorus. but the album’s true stand-out is “To the Boys”, a courageous, sassy fuck-you to her own self-deprecation where she learns to love all the things she hated about herself. if you enjoyed angel olsen’s ‘My Woman’, this is the album for you. “more dreamy, torchy country-pop goodness from this Austin breakout”

Stardust Birthday Party

Ron Gallo –  Stardust Birthday Party

Ron Gallo’s punk-poet persona remains intact, backed by a generous injection of scuzz and fuzz.

“the details of my path are pointless because everyone’s path is different. it is about me sitting with myself for the first time and confronting the big question ‘what am i, really?’ it’s about the love and compassion for all things that enters when you find out you are nothing and everything. i think at one point i wanted to change the world, but now i know i can only change myself, or rather just strip away everything that is not me to reveal the only thing that’s ever been there. and that’s what this album is about, it’s me dancing while destroying the person i thought i was, and hopefully forever”. fans of oh sees, ty segall and warm drag should check this out

WANDERER

Cat Power  –  Wanderer

Chan Marshall’s return to the folkier, bluesier side of the tracks is very welcome on this lustrous set of understated, yet quietly powerful, acoustic ballads.

produced in its entirety by Marshall, ‘Wanderer’ includes appearances by long-time friends & compatriots, as well as guest vocals courtesy of Lana del Rey & an exquisite cover of Rihanna’s ‘Stay’. the 11 tracks encompass “my journey so far,” says Marshall. “the course my life has taken in this journey – going from town to town, with my guitar, telling my tale; with reverence to the people who did this generations before me. folk singers, blues singers, & everything in between. they were all wanderers, & i am lucky to be among them.” “the set has both strength & a lean, lustrous beauty, tapping Carole King-style classicism & american folk standards”

Fall Into the Sun

Swearin’ – Fall Into The Sun

their scuzztastic reunion has gifted us a blissful set of melodic bangers that go hard on distortion and easy on the ears.

much like the band’s previous albums, Gilbride anchored the recording and producing of the record, but this time around, the band worked to make the process feel more collaborative than ever before. “i feel like this was the first time i could look at a Swearin’ record and say that i co-produced it, and that felt really good,” said Crutchfield. Crutchfield and Gilbride always had an innate ability to mirror the other’s movements in songs, but here, they build a focused lyrical perspective across their songs, one that’s thankful for their past, but looks boldly toward the future. fans of rilo kiley, the beths, speedy ortiz and forth wanderers need to check this out!

Masana Temples

Kikagaku Moyo – Masana Temples

the psych-prog quintet return with a serene set of wah-heavy motifs, seasoned with moments of exquisitely delicate, hushed vocals.

more than the literal interpretation of being on a journey, the album’s ever-changing sonic panorama reflects the spiritual connection of the band moving through this all together. inspecting the harmonies and disparities between their evolving perspectives, the group reflects the emotional impact of their nomadic paths. the music is the product of time spent in motion and all of the bending mindsets that come with it. fans of minami deutsche and sundays & cybele should check this out.

Possible Dust Clouds

Kristin Hersh  – Possible Dust Clouds

enveloping the juxtaposition of the concept of ‘dark sunshine’, this brooding solo album expands her off-kilter sonic vision; a squally, squeaky cocktail of discordant beauty.

feedback and phasing gyrate from simply strummed normality, imagine Dinosaur jr and My Bloody Valentine cranking up a Dylan couplet. messing with both extremes of the sonic spectrum: atonal and arrhythmic, a unique sound and a glorious return to form for one of alternative rock’s true innovators. “sometimes the most subversive thing i can do musically is adhere to standard song structure, sometimes the creepiest chords are the ones we’ve heard before, twisted into different shapes” – Kristin Hersh, july 2018. “the prodigious output and commitment to quality is pretty staggering, but then Kristin Hersh is a very, very special musician.”

LIVE AT THIRD MAN RECORDS

Father John Misty – Live at Third Man Records

Live at Third Man Records covers songs from the first three of his albums, heard here stripped totally bare, you lucky tikes.  In September last year, Josh Tillman stopped by Third Man’s Nashville headquarters on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday afternoon and surprised them with a lunchtime solo, acoustic set before his sold-out Ryman Auditorium performance. They, of course, had our 1955 Scully Lathe warmed at the ready to capture the occasion. As is typical for direct-to-acetate recordings in the Blue Room, Josh warmed up the room (and our engineers) with two songs before they started cutting the LP. He began with the debut performance of his newly penned Mr. Tillman(foreshadowing its release as the first single on God’s Favorite Customer 9 months later). They then used the second song as an opportunity to carve a 12” on-the-spot single of Now I’m Learning to Love the War, which was promptly handed it to a lucky attendee for safe keeping. If you want to know more about that, you’ll have to scour the depths of FJM’s fan net. Live at Third Man Records covers songs from all three Father John Misty albums out at the time of its recording, heard here stripped totally bare

my american dream

Will Hoge  –  My American Dream

Hoge gives it his all on this blazing album of gritty, country soul, newly infused with a furious rock energy.

with ‘My American Dream’, Hoge hopes that others will follow his lead, see the world through someone else’s eyes, and maybe begin to fix the mess we’re living in. “i don’t want to write songs telling people how they should feel” Hoge says. “if anything, maybe there’s a 16- or 17-year-old kid in the small-town south who has rumblings of these feelings but doesn’t have anybody in his little community to go, ‘hey man, think about it like this for a second. here’s another group of people’s perspectives’”. fans of chris stapleton, lydia loveless, steve earle’s ‘copperhead road’ and nikki lane will love this!

ICON OF EGO

Arc Iris  –  Icon of Ego

the trio’s third is a vividly expressionistic record that reflects their protean talents, creating an avantgarde experimental pop that’s entirely their own.

‘Icon of Ego’ finds a stronger, more experienced band. the band has evolved into a concentrated pop-prog explosion, mixing styles with disparate elements that captivate and surprise. with heavy synthesiser work by Tenorio and Jocie Adams, and seemingly impossible transitions executed effortlessly by Belli, the songs here carry a thick, analogue electronic sound that harks back to the ’70s. presiding over these are Adams’ powerful vocals that house the energy under pop forms. fans of cocorosie and deerhoof should check these guys out.

I

Terry – I’m Terry

the Melbourne quartet capture their particular kind of witty diy, garage pop beautifully on this lp.

there are few rules in Terry’s world. “they seem to make a song out of whatever sounds good to them. the only stylistic consistency is in their hat wear. terry are like Steely Dan or 10cc. both bands make me queasy after a certain point. Terry probably also make me a bit queasy, singing about police beatings and nationalism and all that. but they’re not out to hurt you. they’re like the kindly bearer of bad news. Terry puts it in terms that speak to me. it’s a tragicomedy.” – fans of the go-betweens, courtney barnett and rolling blackouts coastal fever need to hear this.

henry / I

Soccer Mommy – Henry / I’m on Fire

Soccer Mommy aka Sophie Allison puts her own heavenly spin on the boss’ timeless classic, plus reworks the lead track from her obscure 2016 album ‘For Young Hearts’, previously only physically available as a rare cassette release. we think she’s done Bruce proud. Soccer Mommy is a must for fans of snail mail, phoebe bridgers, lucy dacus and julien baker.

LIVE AT THIRD MAN RECORDS

Kevin Morby – Live at Third Man Records

Kevin Morby performs two tracks for third man, stripping them down and revealing something completely new, in relation to their studio counterparts.

Formally a member of New York folk group Woods, Kevin Morby has made a name for himself with his four acclaimed solo releases. these songs, “Destroyer” and “Black Flowers”, come from his third record ‘Singing Saw’. “Destroyer” is an autobiographical minimalistic keyboard ballad, a distant cousin of the full band album version. “Black Flowers” on this single borrows less from the sweeping orchestras of leonard cohen’s catalogue and more from the melancholic austerity of bert jansch.

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Normally I’d say you’re setting yourself up for a very public and humiliating defeat by trying to cover the ever popular Rihanna, but there’s nothing normal ever about Cat Power. Chan Marshall has the voice of an angel with a pack-a-day habit, so whatever she sings sounds like some sort of badass divine intervention. Her cover of Rhianna’s 2012 hit ‘Stay’ is the second single off her new album, “Wanderer”and it’s really something special. According to Chan, covering songs is a tradition that is “one of the highest compliments you can pay another artist. It’s one of the great traditions in American music and one of the true pleasures of music history.”

“Stay” features on ‘Wanderer’, the new album from Cat Power, out 5th October on Domino Record Co.

Revered indie singer-songwriter Chan Marshall a.k.a. Cat Power takes inspiration from well-traveled folk and blues musicians on Wanderer, her first album in six years (and tenth overall). The 11-track project will include the rumbling, soulful single “Woman” (featuring recent tourmate Lana Del Rey) as well as what Marshall promises are appearances from “longtime friends and compatriots.” In a statement announcing the LP, Marshall said, “Wanderer, the album, represents the course my life has taken in this journey  going from town to town, with my guitar, telling my tale; with reverence to the people who did this generations before me … They were all wanderers, and I am lucky to be among them.”

Chan Marshall is preparing to release her 10th album under the alias Cat Power. While she’s known for her inventive covers (her latest triumph a take on Rihanna’s “Stay”), Marshall has remained an independent and innovative songwriter since debuting in the ’90s, recently influenced by big changes: motherhood, a six-year musical hiatus and a new label, Domino Recordings (her former label, Matador Records, passed on Wanderer). Despite a somewhat winding road since her last record, 2012’s SunCat Power is poised to make a victorious return. If “Stay” and the record’s other two singles, “Woman” and the title track, are any indication, Wanderer is headed for husky pop glory.

Sonic and emotional economy tend to be Chan Marshall’s greatest strengths. Her albums as Cat Power sound like eavesdropping on intimate confessions bolstered by stark musical accompaniment. Even though Marshall has moved beyond guitar-and-voice compositions as her career has progressed—1996’s What Would The Community Think incorporated smoldering pedal steel; 1998’s Moon Pix featured contributions from members of the Dirty Three; and 2006’s The Greatest was brightened by horns—her overall aesthetic remains unvarnished sparseness.

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Last month, Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power, teased the release of her 10th album with 80 seconds of scenic views and husky, hymn-like vocals. The visual featured a snippet of the album’s title track: Wanderer, out this fall via Domino Recordings, The release will break the artist’s six-year hiatus following the release of Sun.

Marshall has now shared the first single from Wanderer: “Woman,” featuring supporting vocals from her former tour-mate Lana Del Rey. It’s a pulsing Americana track, with thick vocals from Marshall intermingling with Del Rey’s whispery tones. The track is bolstered by a solid guitar riff that reflects hazy late nights and Marshall’s southern roots. The singers repeat “woman” over and over until it becomes an icy affirmation against the backdrop of a vast landscape. “I’m a woman of my word / Now you have heard / My word’s the only thing I truly need”—a testament to feminine power.

The song also comes with a video directed by Greg Hunt. It’s a simple visual, switching between shots of Marshall and her band on a rooftop at sunset, and in a studio with deeply saturated blues and pinks.

Wanderer was written, recorded and produced by Marshall herself, and it reflects the themes of rootlessness that come with being a touring musician. The album comes out on October. 5th, but you can watch the video for “Woman” below.

“Woman (feat. Lana Del Rey)” features on ‘Wanderer’, the new album from Cat Power, out 5th October on Domino Record Co.

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Cat Power and Jakob Dylan performing the Turtles’ “You Showed Me” (written by The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark).

Echo In The Canyon – A special night on October 12th at THE ORPHEUM THEATRE featuring the Music of The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, The Mamas & The Papas, The Association, Love & more. Performed By Fiona Apple,Beck, Jakob Dylan, Cat Power Sun, Regina Spektor, and Jade (formerly of Edward Sharpe)

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the birth of the Southern California folk rock scene.

With a studio album to be released in spring 2016; Listen/share new Cat Power/Jakob Dylan recording of The Turtles’ “You Showed Me”  with the mysterious Echo In The Canyon band musicians, you might wonder…? Well, on the album and on the stage, for the most part: Bass and BGVs –Dan Rothchild loves music. Drums – Matt Tecu. Keyboards – Jordan Summers. Guitars – Geoff Pearlman & Fernando Perdomo. BGVs Justine Bennett.

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Dinosaur Jnr frontman J Mascis, has a new solo album available “Tied To a Star” world weariness vocals featuring backing vocals from Cat Power.