Posts Tagged ‘Hell On’

Neko Case, photo by Emily Shur

Neko Case returns with her new solo album, Hell-On. The Producer / singer / songwriter Neko Case has won a large and loyal audience for her smoky, sophisticated vocals and the downcast beauty of her music. Now more than 23 years into her musical calling, Case is the consummate career artist – fearless and versatile, with a fierce work ethic and a constant drive to search deeper within herself for creative growth. Anti-Records release Neko Case’s Hell On, an indelible collection of colourful, enigmatic storytelling that features some of her most daring, through-composed arrangements to date.

Produced by Neko with help from Bjorn Yttling (Peter Bjorn and John), Hell On is simultaneously the most accessible and most challenging album in a rich and varied career that’s offered plenty of both. Rife with withering self-critique, muted reflection, anthemic affirmation, and her unique poetic sensibility, the 12 tracks of Hell On – which features collaborations such as Joey Burns, Beth Ditto, Kelly Hogan, KD Lang, AC Newman, Paul Rigby, Laura Veirs, and more.  The singer-songwriter also received contributions from the likes of her New Pornographers bandmate AC Newman, Gossip’s Beth Ditto, Doug Gillard, lang, Veirs, and Eric Bachmann (Crooked Fingers/Archers of Loaf). She and Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan duet on “Curse of the I-5 Corridor”.

During recording sessions abroad in Stockholm, her home in the US burned down in a raging fire. The tragic incident is touched on throughout the album, especially on the single “Bad Luck”, but she’s since somewhat come to terms with what happened. Per a statement:

Case is now stoic about the fire. “If somebody burned your house down on purpose, you’d feel so violated. But when nature burns your house down, you can’t take it personally.” The month before the blaze, Hurricane Harvey had slammed into Texas and flooded Houston. Her home burned just as Puerto Rico was plunged into a nightmare by Hurricane Maria and wildfires incinerated California. “In the big picture, my house burning was so unimportant,” she says. “So many people lost so much more: lives and lives and lives.”

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In support of Hell-On, Case will soon kick off a sprawling North American tour, followed by a European stint that lasts well into November.

Hell-On marks Case’s first solo record in five years. The 12-track collection is the follow-up to 2013’s The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You; it also comes after her 2016 collaboration with k.d. lang and Laura Veirs and her 2017 album with The New Pornographers, Whiteout Conditions.

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Neko Case  is releasing her first solo album since her 2013 record The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You. Her new album is titled, “Hell-On”, due out on June 1st, it is a 12-song, self-produced LP. Case has given listeners a taste of the new record with tracks “Bad Luck” and “Hell-On,” and now with “Curse Of The I-5 Corridor,” Case has left a final bread crumb before the release of the full-length.

The seven-minute song winds like the long interstate it references: I-5 runs along the West Coast of the U.S., from the Mexican to Canadian border. A duet with Mark Lanegan, who is known for his solo work in addition to collaborations and his work with Queens of the Stone Age, “Curse Of The I-5 Corridor” is a haunting combination of lyrics and sound. The song reflects on the past, and uncovers an unsureness of the future and what it could have brought. Lines like “in the current of your life I was an eyelash in the shipping lanes” and “I fear I smell extinction in the folds of this novocaine age coming on” reveal these aspects. Lanegan’s voice at times becomes an eerie echo to Case’s, lurking in the background, and adds to the tension the song’s instrumental breaks carry.

“Curse of the I-5 Corridor” by Neko Case from the album ‘Hell-On’ available June 1st Anti Records.

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Neko Case’s first solo album in 5 years, “Hell-On”. Is the hyphen some kind of slang for our current hell on Earth? Per that wild album artwork, are haberdasheries going to update their stock with hats made out of lit cigarettes? Can human hair really emit such a dark and ominous plume?

Here’s what we do know. Out June 1st, “Hell-On” will feature contributions from Beth Ditto, Mark Lanegan, k.d. lang, A.C. Newman, Eric Bachmann, Kelly Hogan, Nada Surf’s Doug Gillard, Laura Veirs, Calexico’s Joey Burns, and others. While she’s often shared producer credits in the past, this is the first time Case has completely self-produced her own album, saying in a press release: “Producing a record is a huge task and there were times I was deep in the weeds, but that is normal for a record that takes a year plus. The weeds aren’t so bad.”

The opening title track is typically Case, which is to say, unpinnably suited to any sound but her own, as her voice coils around such choice lyrics as: “God is a lusty tire fire.”

In that same press release, Neko Case reflects on the kinds of songs she writes and — with every right to brag, but still self-effacing — why she’s the only one who can write them that way:
I write songs from a feeling of solidarity with folks who feel alone or isolated, I think I’m trying to comfort people in this way. It’s not a forceful way rather “No commitment necessary;” take it if you want it, take it as you can.

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My style is odd, I don’t know what genre this is. I don’t have a pretty voice or a trained voice, and I am constantly disappointed that I don’t have a “tough” voice, no matter how hard I practice, but it’s mine, and for all its loud, heavy-handed, nasal, vibrato-less qualities I accept it. The closest sound I have found to compare it to is Bulgarian Folk singing. My Eastern ancestors could have been proud of me a century ago? I could have been a droning “caller of wasps” perhaps? I just invented that job, I like the sound of it.  We do, too.

Neko Case’s ‘Hell-On’ comes out June 1st.
Neko Case goes on tour with Ray LaMontagne this summer. Hell-On comes out June 1st via ANTI-Records.