KEEP IT ON THE BROWNLOWE: CAT POWER: You are *almost* Dead to Me


It is a sad, tragic day when you realize you can’t relate to one of your favorite singer’s creative vision anymore:

Oh NO she DINNIT!!!!!
Cat Power: WTF is with the hat?

For me, this singer is Cat Power. I was SO stoked to give her a second chance after she did a bloody nose dive on The Greatest (2006), which was clearly her worst album to date…Until today, when I was barely able to make it through the 30 second samples of her latest mistake, Jukebox.

I personally liked Cat Power better when she was a bit crazy and self destructive making death rattling, haunting southern alternative folk music. A woman who made herself a legend because she could barely make it through a song live due to  her debilitating emotional pain.

Now, she just sounds like a watered down, cheap whiskey, a recovering alcoholic who makes wonky, down-tempo and tepid sounds, CROSSING THE BORDER INTO ADULT CONTEMPORARY BULLSHIT LAND!!!!.

It really  is sad when your best recorded work in several years is a Cat Stevens cover you recorded for a commercial for diamonds:

SOMEONE NEEDS TO SEND THIS WOMAN TO MUSIC-REHAB with a bottle of Southern Comfort Blues or else I fear their may be a Christian-Alternative Rock album on the way.

Lucky for me, I don’t get sick of her earlier works. That being said, I am willing to give her a third chance (but we all know the rules of baseball).

You Are Free
Listen: “WEREWOLF”
How on earth can someone take a dive in the wrong direction after an astonishing well done album like this one? This album is a happy marriage of Cat Power’s gut wrenching emotives with power pop optimism. There is a bit of studio musician backing going on, but in a tasteful way. Eddie Vedder even makes a vocal appearance without ruining the mood. I love the quiet piano on opener, “I Don’t Blame You”, acoustic rocking sing-a-long of title track, “You Are Free”, the bottom of a bottle of blues back porch confessions of “Good Woman”, the reviving howls of “Speak For Me”, the haunting croons in “Werewolf”, the pop sensational drive of “He War”, the chills and forewarning of “Shaking Paper”, the sullen minimalism of “Baby Doll”, the trembling harmonies found in “Maybe Not”, the poetic requests of “Half Of You”, and the haunting sound of spiders retreating into the night on “Keep On Runnin”.

Covers Record
Listen: “Sweedee dee”

I cannot even think where to start on explaining why I love this album so much. It is extraordinary. I guess it is because it is so stark and simple, and doesn’t fuck around with frills, and just stabs straight to the emotive heart. I don’t know much about how the original versions sound but I definitely feel Chan Marshall touched them individually and left a part of her soul. I can tell she chose each song for a reason. This album destroys me. Listening to it feels like the comfort after screaming at the top of your lungs or crying for the first time in months. I can listen to it when I want to be calm, when I want to bring up the devil in me and confront him, when I want to look out the window on the train, when I want to be lost in the moment of the words. It is difficult to find a favorite song on this album because they are all so damn good. There are love songs, songs of loss, words of lust, words of deep seeded pain, words of the layman all sung over gently played guitar or piano in Chan’s thick smoke curling draw.

Moon Pix
MOON PIX (1998)
Listen: “He Turns Down”

This album was the first I heard from Cat Power. My friend put a few songs from Moon Pix on a mix tape and it didn’t really help me get out of my 11th grade depression. It did give me something to relate to though…I wore it thin. I love the percussive instrumentation on “American Flag”, how it relates to the words, the flute and guitar entangled “He turns down” and the bottom of the bottle melancholy of “Moonshiner”.

Watch: “Cross Bones Style” Music Video:

What Would The Community Think?
Listen: “Nude as the News”

This album is very shoe gazy at at time wishy washy, but there are some gems, such as the driving “Nude as the News”, emotive crescendo of “fate of the human carbine”, guitar violently ending “Enough”, and the cold spoken repetition of “The Coat is Always On”.

Myra Lee
MYRA LEE (1995)
Listen: “Rockets”

The second disc of the session with Sonic Youth drummer “Steve Shelly” collaborates with Chan on this record whose name helps to propel her into shy indie darling status. This album contains a good balance between driving blues songs such as “We All Die”, “Rockets” and “Top Expert” and chilling minimalism in songs like “Great Expectations” and “Wealthy Man”.

Dear Sir
DEAR SIR (1995)
Listen: “Itchyhead”
A lot of these songs feel like the first take of many that reappear on Myra Lee. This album is extremely rough, almost nightmarish in it’s manic tendencies. My favorite songs include “Itchyhead” where Chan seems to put herself into the head of a crazy jail dweller who has lost her mind with nonsense words such as “I’m 65 and nobody in my family knows I’m alive / Hey little girl, I wanna cut your hair off / So I can pour butter on you”.


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