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Neko Case & Her Boyfriends 

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NEKO CASE & HER BOYFRIENDS

Neko Case may don the occasional cowboy hat and complement her twangy originals with covers like Ernest Tubb's "Thanks a Lot," but it's her heady pop sensibility more than any of her country trappings that makes her recent solo debut, The Virginian (Bloodshot), a standout. Although the Vancouver-based singer was indeed born in Virginia, she cut her musical teeth in Tacoma, Washington, and her current home, where she immersed herself in the thriving indie-rock scene. Until about two years ago, she sang and played drums in the punky rockabilly group Maow, and The Virginian is filled with pop movers and shakers from Canada and the Pacific Northwest, including members of the Softies, Zumpano, Superfriendz, and Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. Case's commanding voice, despite its nice rural lilt, can bridge the stylistic gaps between Scott Walker, the Everly Brothers, and Loretta Lynn (all of whom she also covers); and while it's clear that she adores sweet vocal harmonies and the vintage sounds of Nashville in the 60s, she never lets notions of country purity limit her work. Case's tight, buoyant backing band, Her Boyfriends--who play on their own as the post-Shadowy Men combo the Sadies--perform with a light touch, avoiding the unintentionally parodic gestures that often mar alternative-country music. Case opens for the Sadies and the Waco Brothers. Saturday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 773-525-6620. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Erica Henderson and Neko Case.

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