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An excellent new album from the cross-border, many-faces-of-pop group, New Pornographers, will bring one of its constituent parts, Neko Case, back to our attention very soon. In fact, stay tuned to this page for an interview with chief Pornographer, A.C. Newman, even sooner.

While we wait for all that, Wind Back Wednesday goes back over that border to 2007 when Case was between a New Pornographers tour of Australia and her own shows on these shores, with records for both also on the case. And, incidentally, a federal election coming up that same year.

Was she working harder than most? Glad you asked. Was it a different Australia? Funny you should mention that.


THIS COULD BE A PASSING OF THE BATON now that Mr James Brown has left the stage permanently. It may be appropriate soon to describe Neko Case as the hardest working woman in show business.

While many UK and an American musicians moan about having to flying long-distance to play in Australia once every three or four years, as if they are doing us a huge favour, the Washington-raised singer is about to make her second trans-Pacific flight in a couple of months.

She was here in December in her alter ego as one of the singers in the bright pop band New Pornographers, and now there's a solo tour playing her own country/torch songs, the tunes which emphasise how perfectly her voice would have fit in during the classic country scene of the 1950s as much as the early '70s country/rock.

(Don't call them songs though. "I don't like the phrase," warns Case. "If they want to call me country that doesn't really bother me, but sounds like a shirt warehouse.")

Maybe we should be rewarding Case for this dedication to the Keating-described arse end of the world.

"I hope they make me a citizen for doing that," she says. "I'm crossing my fingers."

Well, she may have to deal with the new citizenship test so it's time to start boning up on Australian culture. Mind you she is likely to be okay being white, American and ostensibly Christian.

"I know a bunch of Canadians who tried to move to Australia and the government was like, nope, not a chance," Case points out.

Were they musicians? Well, in that case they were probably left-leaning dangerous intellectual types and we don't like that sort of thing here thank you very much.

"But I thought Australia loved dangerous left-leaning intellectuals."

Oh, the innocence of the casual traveller to our shores.

"If I talk about Sidney Nolan and Ned Kelly and stuff will they be a little more lenient on me?"

Is she nuts? That's art, that's practically labelling yourself one of those elitist types. Best stick to Ken Done and Steve Irwin.

"Oh," Case says, clearly deflated, before seeing a positive side to this news. "Well, it's good to have an inside tip. Now I know what I need to study for my tests."

It's not as if she doesn't have some experience with Australian culture anyway, with her last solo tour three years ago as the support act on Nick Cave's tour. This time however, she is bringing her full band to play songs from her outstanding 2006 album Fox Confessor Brings The Flood.

"I'm not any good at playing by myself," she says. "I'm not a virtuoso guitar player, I don't do solos are anything. I taught myself to play guitar and I have my fingers in all the pies, you know what I mean, writing, producing, singing, so I don't have time."

With the New Pornographers she's been known to leap into Heart songs, some Fleetwood Mac and even Beyonce. Is there any reason why we couldn't see some Beyonce in her own shows?

"Well, yes there is [a reason]," she chuckles "my band would go, 'what?'"

That's a shame however, as it was a childhood ambition of hers to be one of Ike and Tina Turner's backing singers/dancers, the Ikettes, and she used to practice her moves in front of the mirror and at parties.

"You know, the reason I'm not in Destiny's Child is I'd have to control my breath far too hard to be able to jig around," Case says apologetically. "I can't do it."

What she needs is auto tune, that fabulous device loved by a certain type of pop singer (hello Cher and Madonna) which modulates voices to the right note, even on stage.

"When you see me in Australia doing my tour with semi-trailers, you'll know that I've succumbed. The sequin tour. It's going to be beautiful. And expensive."


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