Neko Case

Middle Cyclone (Anti-)

Phases & Stages

Neko Case

Middle Cyclone (Anti-)

Lifting off as if Judy Garland just clacked together her sparkling red shoes, Middle Cyclone powers up Neko Case's rapturous howl while shards of femme fatale whiz about a musical jet stream of newly ancient Americana. Bookending the LP opener with "My love I am the speed of sound" and the song's chorus and title, "This Tornado Loves You," those marvels level all, though sooner or later all the singer's discs get lost in her wind-tunnel voice. "Prison Girl" pledge "I love your long shadows and your gunpowder eyes" takes the same pound of flesh as a killer whale in "People Got a Lotta Nerve." On Sparks' "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth," the note the singer takes on "earth" lands between Topanga Canyon, Nashville, and Threadgill's 1968, while the title track glows Joni Mitchell. M. Ward and a siren chorus of Carolyn Mark, Kelly Hogan, and Lucy Roche leave "Magpie to the Morning" to yesteryear as well. At 42 minutes, Cyclone could still lose a few tunes ("Fever," "The Pharaohs"), which elongate a back end that never seals the album properly, but in penning almost all of her own material, Neko Case can even get away with a 31-minute final track of cricket song. (Neko Case touches down on Stubb's, Tuesday, March 31.)

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