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Neko Case Biography

Home > Music > C > Case, Neko > Biography

Born: 1970/09/08
Birth Place: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Years Active: 1994–present
Genres: Indie Rock, Alternative Country, Folk Rock

Neko Case (born September 8, 1970) is an American singer-songwriter, best known for her solo career and her contributions as a member of the Canadian indie rock group The New Pornographers.

Case recorded and toured for several years as Neko Case & Her Boyfriends before performing solely under her name. She primarily performs her own material, but also performs and has recorded cover versions of songs by other influential artists.

In 1994, Case moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, to attend the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. While attending school she played drums in several local bands, including the Del Logs, the Propanes, the Weasels, Cub, and Maow.

In 1998, Case graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, which meant the loss of her student visa eligibility. She left Canada for Seattle, Washington. Before leaving, Case recorded vocals for a few songs that ended up on “Mass Romantic,” The New Pornographers' debut album. Released in 2000, “Mass Romantic” became a surprise success. Although the band was originally conceived as a side project for its members, The New Pornographers decided to tour and eventually recorded several albums.

Case fully embraced country music on her 1997 album with Her Boyfriends, “The Virginian.” The album contained original compositions as well as covers of songs by Ernest Tubb, Loretta Lynn and even the 1974 Queen song "Misfire.” When the album was released, critics compared Case to honky-tonk singers like Lynn and Patsy Cline, and to rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson, particularly in her vocal timbre.

In February 2000, Case released her second solo album with Her Boyfriends, “Furnace Room Lullaby.” It introduced the country noir elements that have defined Case's subsequent solo career. On the album, her vocal style moved away from outright honky-tonk but retained her twang, garnering comparisons to musicians such as Cline, Lynn, Hazel Dickens, Tanya Tucker, and Dolly Parton.

At about the time “Furnace Room Lullaby” was released, Case left Seattle for Chicago. Case's first work in Chicago was an eight-song EP that she recorded in her kitchen. “Canadian Amp,” her first recording without Her Boyfriends, was released on her own Lady Pilot label in 2001. She wrote two of the tracks. Six tracks are covers, including Neil Young's “Dreaming Man” and Hank Williams' “Alone and Forsaken.”

Case recorded her third full-length album, “Blacklisted,” in Tucson, Arizona. Her first album credited to Case alone was released in August 2002. Some believe the title “Blacklisted” alludes to Case being banned for life from the Grand Ole Opry because she took her shirt off during a performance in August 2001, though Case herself has denied this. Most of the album's fourteen songs are originals, except for covers of “Running Out of Fools,” previously a hit for Aretha Franklin, and “Look for Me (I'll Be Around)” by Sarah Vaughan.

The New Pornographers' second album, “Electric Version,” was released in May 2003. Case sang lead on even more of the songs on this album, and toured with the group again. “Twin Cinema,” the New Pornographers' third album, was released in August 2005, with Case again providing vocals on several tracks. In addition to providing backing vocals on several songs, Case performs lead vocals on two ballads, “The Bones of an Idol” and “These Are the Fables.” She opted out of most subsequent touring duties with the band; however, her parts were taken over by Kathryn Calder.

Her album “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood” was released in March 2006 and was recorded primarily in Tucson, over the course of two years. Critics hailed the record not only for Case's trademark vocals but also her use of stark imagery and non-standard song structures. The album debuted at #54 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

On The New Pornographers album “Challengers,” released in August 2007, Case contributed lead vocals to the title song as well as “Go Places,” in addition to her backing vocals on the other tracks.

Case’s next solo album, 2009’s “Middle Cyclone” debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart in its first week of release, making it Case's first album ever to reach the Top 10 in the United States. At that time, no other record from an independent record company had debuted at a higher position.

The New Pornographers’ 2010 album, “Together,” featured Case as lead vocalist on “Crash Years” and “My Shepherd.”