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Neko Case: A Meteorological Masterpiece

Neko Case has one of those huge, powerful voices that pulls you in and swirls you around — kind of like a tornado. Her new album, Middle Cyclone, is full of songs with meteorological references: storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and cyclones.

"I just really dig feeling subservient to nature," she says. "It brings me a peace and calm. Kind of like a Faustian thing, I think, where you want the devil's minion to tell you, 'You know, Faust, I could tell you what the meaning of life is, but your human brain is so tiny, you just wouldn't get it.' So that's kind of what weather is like for me, I think: that reminder that should make you feel cruddy about yourself, but you just go, 'You know what, you're right, I feel so much better.' "

A Barnful Of Pianos

Parts of Middle Cyclone were written on Case's dairy farm in Vermont, which is filled with pianos she collected from Craigslist.

"I really wanted to find a piano for the farm house," Case says. "There were so many free pianos on Craigslist, I thought, 'Let's get as many free pianos as we can and stick them all in the barn.' I got eight in a short period of time, only six of which were tunable, but it's still quite funny."

Case, who is also a member of the indie-rock group The New Pornographers, says that recording and touring with a group of musicians can provide a welcome break from a solo career.

"It's actually a very nice transition," she says, "because I don't write the songs in The New Pornographers. So for me, it's kind of like sleepover camp, where you get to go in canoes and jump off floating docks and stuff — of rock. And I've been in that band since 1995, so it's nice that it's still happening."

At Home On The Road

Case calls touring "the one part of the job that I feel like I really know what I'm doing. I don't feel nervous or fearful when I'm on stage."

A large part of this comfort comes from the group of friends with whom Case performs: "We've all known each other since we were kids, basically."

To cope with the demands of being in touring bands, Case and her fellow performers keep their tours short.

"It's a little more costly," she says. "But, you know, everybody in my band is married, pretty much, and have lives at home, and I don't want them to be away from their families so long that they just start to feel psychotic. You have to go home and stand around in your bathrobe doing your dishes to feel like a normal person sometimes."

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