38.) Neko Case - Middle Cyclone (2009)

I'm saying this right now Middle Cyclone is the most underrated record of this decade not released by Fastball or Harvey Danger. Middle Cyclone has been criminally slept-on by virtually everyone and while no one will necessarily speak ill of it, it's still Neko Case after all, no one's talking about in the glowing terms they should be.

Middle Cyclone is sequenced to perfection. Sequencing is something you usually don't notice, unless it's done to a T and then you can't help but. The record unfolds over time like so many great records do. The first few times you listen it sounds like it might be a filler-full (not a real term) record, which could be why it didn't get the attention it warrants. There are a few immediate classics - "This Tornado Loves You", "People Got a Lot of Nerve", "Middle Cyclone" and "I'm An Animal" - spread across the record and in-between there's some quieter tracks that sort of fade away as well as some covers. These tracks only serve to allow those bangers to stand out. They grab you and pull you in, no doubt, but it's after repeated listens that those quieter, more subtle tracks reveal themselves to be the true backbone of this flawless record.

Tracks like "Polar Nettles", "Fever" and Neko's gorgeous cover of Harry Nilsson's "Don't Forget Me" may not grab you by your throat immediately, but Middle Cyclone absolutely does not work without them. I tend to listen to records as whole statements. After a while favorites will no doubt emerge, but to start I like to think of a record as a whole. When Middle Cyclone revealed itself to me I was listening to it on a walk home from work and I found that I knew all the words to "Vengeance Is Sleeping" - one of the records quietest and most seemingly non-descript moment. I wasn't paying attention to it, yet it had slowly sunk in. From then on I heard the record with new ears and thankful ears as well.

I may not be explaining this as well as I'd like, but trust me if you whittled Middle Cyclone down to just a few songs, do yourself a favor and give the whole record another chance. It truly sneaks up on you. Lastly, I know I mentioned the Nilsson cover, but what Neko does with other people's songs is truly astounding and her cover of Sparks' "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth" very well could find it's way onto my list of favorite covers ever.

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