artists interests

Top Five Records To Save From A Burning Building

So these are five cd’s or vinyl records that I consider, at least the mood I am in right now, to be a few of my favorite ones. This list consists of albums that would make me cry if I lost them or got them stolen from me. I have played these records constantly. I would consider these to be currently my “desert island” discs.

1. Beck….Odelay (sampling masterpiece)
2. Black Sabbath….Paranoid (Original Heavy Metal Genius)
3. Beach Boys….Pet Sounds (So far ahead of its time)
4. Smashing Pumpkins….Siamese Dream (Listened to this one everyday after school in high school)
5. Neko Case….Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (I just listened to this one again a few hours ago… “ALWAYS” makes me cry…..because it’s that good!)


Album Reviews artists

Number 9 Number 9 Number 9 Number 9

…..that was a Beatles reference (from The White Album)


ARTIST = Neko Case

ALBUM = The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight…

neko neko

So, who is she?
Why do I like her so much?
Why is her new album Number Nine on my list???

She has the voice of an angel
Much revival enthusiasm with arresting beauty
Her inspiration comes from respected artists
like Loretta Lynne, Hank Williams and Tom Waits
She’s embraced country music but
truly influenced by David Lynch Films
and unusual noir styles
She’s incorporated dreamy imagery
of the rights of animals
love, loss and what it means to live in America

So the blue spotlights flicker on
We hear the noises of Submarine sonar pings
Fog fills of the stage
The crowd goes wild
Much applause
Our red-headed hero is ready to jam
She’s ready to expose her soul
Her melancholy mixed with humor
It’s just her way of entertaining
Aggressive guitars
Yet laid back
-me and my words

Her stuff is truly a nice blend
of Indie, Alternative, Rock and Country
One of the most stunning moments is a gorgeous acapella
done by her and co-singer Kelly Hogan.
Shocking language
just their two pleasant voices
in this abstract location
just made me realize why I love her so much
No fear to express her and dear friend’s voice
in an honest and real way.

Thanks for the inspiration Neko


Friday Night’s Hidden Music


What is the hideout? A small venue is located in Chicago, one of many. But this one is unique. More unusual than you might think. It’s a place for the average dude or chick. A dive bar that “rocks.” It’s in the middle of an industrial area with a lot of garbage trucks and warehouses nearby. An obscure location. Cash Only. Since the Al Capone days, the Hideout has been around. Lots of events and small concerts actually happen here. I tend to dig places that are off the beaten path. Have you been to a bar this this? One that holds random bingo nights, charity events, live shows with a lot of beer that keeps on coming. Cheap drinks. The hideout isn’t flashy. It’s ordinary, small and a wonderful little gem that many people don’t know anything about. Plus there’s cool outdoor seating in the summer time. Which brings me to the next question.

They hold a Block Party? Whats this all about? Well it takes places annually around Labor Day. In September; on the streets outside of the bar, this fun and laid back party is full of music, food, drinks and various hipsters hanging out. But there’s no hype or much talk about it. Unlike events, such as Lollapalooza or Pitchfork, this is kind of a secret. But let me tell you, there’s a lot of heart and soul in this party. Low stress, family friendly festival. There’s even valet bicycle parking. The smell of garbage dumpster juice blowing around in the cool Friday night windy air is awesome! Ahhhh! Parking is free but you have to walk at least 6 blocks. That’s what my wife and I did on Friday, September 6th.

Now for the bands we saw as we stood around drinking our green tea, chomping on BBQ sandwiches and pasties.

First we got treated by banjos, fiddles and various acoustic guitars jamming quite excitably loud and making everyone clap and cheer. This group I speak of is called “Trampled By Turtles.” They’re from Minnesota. It’s folk. It’s bluegrass. Think Bob Dylan and Neil Young with a touch of country. The two of us were nicely entertained by this catchy band.


Intermission time. Bathroom break! Lets grab a coke!

Next up? A living legend. We are now in the midst of the one and only Mavis Staples. Se been around since the civil rights movement. Rhythm and Blues mixed with Gospel is her style. She was the front runner of the classic group The Staple Sisters. Remember the hits, “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself?” We’ll she’s been recording some new stuff with Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) creating gospel albums of the 21st century. Spectacular voice and a great band with backup singers. Mavis is 74 years old and still really packs a punch! You go girl!


Last break before the final act. Our headliner for this evening is Neko Case. We situated ourselves up front to the left of the stage and leaned against the cold steel rails in anticipation for one of my favorite artists to take the microphone. This now marks my fifth time seeing Neko live. Today, September 8th, is her birthday. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY Neko Case! Just thought I’d mention that. So, who is she? Why do I like her so much? She has the voice of an angel. Much revival enthusiasm with arresting beauty.

Her inspiration comes from respected artists like, Loretta Lynne, Hank Williams and Tom Waits. She’s embraced country music but truly influenced by David Lynch Films and unusual noir styles. She’s incorporated dreamy imagery of the rights of animals, love, loss and what it means to live in America.

So the blue spotlights flicker on
We hear the noises of Submarine sonar pings
Fog fills of the stage
The crowd goes wild
Much applause
Our red-headed hero is ready to jam
She’s ready to expose her soul
Her melancholy mixed with humor
It’s just her way of entertaining
Aggressive guitars
Yet laid back

Her stuff is truly a nice blend of Indie, Alternative, Rock and Country.
One of the most stunning moments was a gorgeous acapella done by her and co-singer Kelly Hogan. Shocking language and just their two pleasant voices in this abstract location just made me realize why I love her so much. No fear to express her and dear friend’s voice in an honest and real way.

It was another night to remember at the Hideout.

Thanks for the inspiration Neko and everyone else.

Peace out


Album Reviews artists Concerts

Neko Case is Back in Chi-Town


I am happy to announce that Neko Case, alternative-country-nor-indie-rock star, is releasing a brand new record and will be playing in my neck of the woods. “Sweet Home Chicago”. I cannot wait! It’s been over four years since I last saw Neko. I thought I would dig something out from the vault to give you an idea of my enthusiasm. Here is the May 2009 article I wrote for a newspaper about my joyous experience:

Alternative Country Singer Shines at Chicago Theatre


Christopher Noe

Let me tell you about Neko Case. She is an alternative country singer-songwriter, best known for her solo career and guest vocalist with many popular artists. Neko is gifted with the guitar as well. She’s originally from Virginia and has travelled and recorded albums all over North America, including Chicago. Case primarily performs her own material and has recorded cover versions of songs by artists such as Loretta Lynn and Hank Williams. Her sound is very unique as it contains “country noir” elements that have truly defined her style. Neko Case has said that filmmaker David Lynch, composer Angelo Badalamenti, and Neil Young’s soundtrack to the film Dead Man have influenced her style. Her last two albums are her most commercially successful ones. Fox Confessor Brings The Flood was released on March 7, 2006. Critics praised this record for her use of desolate imagery and nonstandard song structures. It debuted at number 52 on the Billboard Top 200 list. Her latest album, Middle Cyclone, was released on March 3, 2009. Just before she began her U.S. tour to promote the record, Case appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the Late Show with David Letterman. The album debuted at number 3 on the Billboard charts and it is her first album ever to reach the top ten in the United States.

On Friday April 24, 2009 Neko Case played a sold out 90 minute show at The Chicago Theatre. The stylish lobby with its magnificent staircase, stunning auditorium complete with murals above the stage and on the ceiling, all make up an amazing building called “The Wonder Theatre of The World” when it first opened in 1921. The Theatre was the first of its kind in America; a huge and extravagant movie palace. It remains today as an excellent symbol of State Street in Chicago. An assortment of the entertainment world’s brightest stars and most excellent productions have taken place on this stage, including Aretha Franklin, Kelly Clarkson, and now for the first time Neko Case. Her material is predominately introspective and passionate. You would not think that ridiculous humor would be so widely integrated into her live gig, but this was exactly the “case”(pun intended) at the show. With a charming and audience-engaging spirit, Neko and her entourage of band members made silly comments and jokes between songs for the duration of the performance. While the music remained perfect and even emotional, the banter in between involved lighthearted chatter about things like Diana Ross wearing too much makeup, Chicago being a sausage town and of course the idea of someone requesting the song “Free Bird.” The crowd was an interesting blend of intellectual college students, the heavily tattooed folks, and bearded-hippies. They watched the entire performance in church-like silence. The only comments from fans came between songs, during which they had no trouble expressing themselves (i.e. “You Rock!” “I Love you!”) in order to verbally contribute to the band’s onstage behavior.

Playing a mix of songs old and new, the inspirational redhead and her squad, gave a magnetic performance that had some 3,000 onlookers completely mesmerized. They had a large screen behind the stage set-up all night where they were projecting unique images of tornadoes, tigers, and a machine-crane among other things. A giant owl seemed to be holding the screen with eyes that glowed red. Before they even took the stage, the audience was treated to several minutes of ambient nature sounds, mostly tree frogs chirping. The room was dark except for a few flickering specs of light projected on the above mentioned screen. Earlier on, opening act Crooked Fingers, brought their own style of Indie experimental rock ranging from soothing, to edgy megaphone, and electronic sounds. Guitarist Eric Bachmann delivered commanding vocals. However, the most dazzling member of the trio was Tim Husmann, a percussionist, pianist and master noisemaker of all kinds. I was honored to be a part of these spectacular musical performances. Both Crooked Fingers and Neko Case are inspiring, powerful, and relevant in our troubled times. It’s good to know that exciting and original music is still alive.

Originally published in the May 14, 2009 issue of desplainesvalleynews Copyright 2009 Christopher Noe. All rights reserved.

P.S. I plan on blogging about my next encounter with her when I attend another show of Neko’s at the Hideout Block Party in Chicago this September! Stay Tuned!


Who the HECK are the Japandroids????

Metro is a tiny concert hall on Clark Street in Chicago that holds special events to a variety of emerging rock bands and various types of musicians. The Metro was first opened up back in 1982. It holds about 1000 people. There’s the main floor and the balcony.

I have been to this place about a half a dozen times. There are some unique memories every time I go. I have seen artists such as Robert Pollard and Neko Case here. On Tuesday June 11th, I went here again with my sister and saw a band called Japandroids. I love the marquee and the Clark Street atmosphere we pass through as we approach the building.

But….Japandroids? Who are they? What is it?

It’s a Canadian rock duo from Vancouver. The group consists of two guys, Brian King (guitar, vocals) and David Prowse (drums, vocals). That’s it! The name Japandroids came from two other fake band name ideas: “Japanese Scream”, suggested David. “Pleasure Droids” , thought Brian. They decided to combine the name. There ya go!


They freakin rock out, plain and simple. Each song of theirs sounds like anthems about life, friends, drinking and freedom. They are fun to sing along to and dance to and even run to. This band makes a lot of sound for just two guys and this album they are promoting, “Celebration Rock” is great, upbeat and rocking. I fell in love with it so much that I dubbed it my album pick of the year 2012. (see an earlier post)

I stumbled upon them in the Spring of 2012 and found myself really getting hooked into their style. They may be the most fun band of the century so far. Screaming guitar hooks will rock your world. Rock on. They make jokes on stage and get the crowd going right away.

It was a hot and sweaty night at the Metro club. We sat upstairs in the small balcony, which is not easy to do. A waitress served us a couple of beers right away and so we were all set. We had to wait in line outside early in order to avoid standing on the floor all night and hurting my neck and back. I’m getting “too old” for that.

While we waited outside getting attacked by bugs and trying to cool off with a cold sprite in my hand, I see a tall guy with a five o clock shadow, curly hair, a white t shirt and skinny jeans walk by and I realize, hey that’s Brian. You know the lead singer/guitar player of Japandroids! That’s cool dude!

So it was a really explosive, sing a long and cheerful night of solid guitar riffs and Jon Bonham-esque drumming patterns that exploded like fireworks all over the stage!!! Although there were some comparisons to Lars Ulrich of Metallica jokes floating around that night too!

I recommend checking these 2 dudes out. If ya like The Replacements, Husker Du or even let’s say Dinosaur Jr. Bob Mould’s guitar styles tend to come to mind. Anyway, the light show, fog machine, the crowd surfers, the hot sweaty environment all made it a night worth rejoicing out loud and embracing life together, especially a brother and sister night out on the town.



Someone on the Rise to Consider: Sharon Van Etten


Who is she? Why should you care?
Once a homeless young lady crashing at co-workers and friend’s places, she is someone to watch out for. It takes a lot of courage for a woman these days to name her album Tramp, especially since that album gently hints at the emotional challenges of our hearts. Brooklyn native Sharon Van Etten, then, deals with sour love and the insanity that can damage the heart and yet keep on surviving somehow. The saturated melodies of Tramp‘s rocking first single, “Serpents”, simultaneously recall Liz Phair and Neko Case, while “We Are Fine” supplies a remedy in order to calm panic attacks. On her third record, Van Etten has been one of America’s best-kept secrets for awhile now. But make no mistake, this was a pleasant experience getting to hear samples of her stuff on NPR news, for me. The press has gotten a hold of her presence now, and it shows. “Sharon Van Etten plays bittersweet neofolk so slow, spare and subtle that you might have to crane your neck to hear it. The Brooklyn songsmith’s tunes are definitely worth the effort.” – Time Out New York. Anyone familiar with the band “The National” might know who Aaron Dessner is. He produced this new album, which is available Tuesday Feb 7th. Tramp is one of the must-hears of early 2012.