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Neko Case
New Chicagoan (by way of Virginia and the Pacific Northwest) Neko Case has long been known to local music fans, first for her vocal work and drum pounding in the mid '90's Vancouver punk band Maow (The Unforgiving Sounds of Maow 1996 Mint Records), and more recently for her solo alt-country releases on local indie powerhouse Bloodshot Records. Her first The Virginian (Bloodshot/Mint, 1998) received critical acclaim for the strong covers and intelligent originals. Heralded by many as the heir to Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn due to her powerful vocal talents, critics bandied about terms like chanteuse and ingTnue with reckless abandon. Though her talents do indeed compare favorably to the great women of the Grand Ole Opry, much of her early fiery punk spirit remains.

Her latest Furnace Room Lullaby (Bloodshot, 2000), is testament to her growth as an artist and song-writer in recent years. There is more confidence in her vocals, and all the material is original. The record covers a wide range, from the wild punkabilly of "Mood to Burn Bridges" to the positively haunting closing title track. "Thrice All American" is also a standout song. It is a wry but poignant homage to her hometown (my hometown too for that matter) of Tacoma, Washington that is a testament to the sad beauty of closed paper mills and run-down canneries at the south end of Puget Sound. Few artists have better captured the spirit of a place--any place--than this. If Virginia and the Northwest can inspire such solid artistry in her first two records, one can only eagerly wait to see what Chicago makes of Neko, and what Neko makes of Chicago.

She is also lead singer for The New Pornographers and has appeared on several Bloodshot compilations and 7"s.

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