Neko Case and the Desertion of Twang

This post is a riff off a conversation started by a review of “Middle Cyclone” by Juli Thanki over at my friends at the 9513.com

Neko Case’s new release “Middle Cyclone” dropped last Tuesday and I have been listening to it for over two weeks now. In that time I decided not to review it on this site. Though I consider Case’s “Blacklisted” and “Furnace Room Lullaby” to be two of the finest releases in the history of alt.country, I feel that “Middle Cyclone” follows Cases’ last release “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood” in her movement away from alt.country (or country noir) and toward the type of indie-pop Case has pursued in her other band The New Pornographers.

“Fox Confessor Brings the Flood” was the biggest selling release from Case’s career and it looks like “Middle Cyclone” is poised to be even bigger. But when I listen to these releases all I can think about is how much I loved her earlier, twangier work and his that beutiful voice has jumped the fence and perusing a muse more in line with Tori Amos and . It’s not that “Middle Cyclone” is bad, on the contrary it’s quite good, it’s just not the kind of music that I started this blog to celebrate.

I felt the same way when REM shed their early Southern-Gothic-art-school weirdness and relased thier mega-selling big label debut “Green.” I feel this way any time I lesten to Wilco now and remember this was the guy that used to be in Uncle Tupelo. Jeff Tweedy is making more money now and getting more recognition then he ever did in his former band and his bandmate, Jay Farrar persues a sound closer to UTs with Son Volt and labors in near obscurity to anyone outside the alt.country fathful.

I’ll end this rambeling post by putting it out to the readers, do you want bands to stay true to a genre distinction and do you feel betrayed when they move away and pursue new sounds and, sometimes, greater success. Do we prefer them to stay “pure” and yet poorer? Do the genre’s brightest stars have to move away from country music to flex their muscles due to the rigidity of what constitutes the country genre?

need to pursue a larger market to be heard since Nashville has such a strong lock on the country music

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