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Wharton's Weekly Albums #3: Week of December 24, 2018

Wharton's Weekly Albums #3: Week of December 24, 2018

My weekly thoughts on the albums I listened to during last week's commute.

The Albums:
*Criminal Minded, Boogie Down Productions
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco
Middle Cyclone, Neko Case

*an asterisk indicates that this is my first listen to this album

The Thoughts:
A short list for a short workweek.  Didn't care much for the BDP.  YHF is an album I've heard so many times that it can be tough to listen to with fresh ears.  Someday I'll do a deep dive into Wilco, but today is not that day.  Instead my focus is on Middle Cyclone, Neko Case's 2009 album.  As an album, it's perfectly cromulent.  It opens with its strongest track, "This Tornado Loves You," one of my favorite songs from that year.  The rest of the songs are all fine, if less memorable.  They sound like Neko Case songs, and they have a general "nature as metaphor for romantic struggle" theme.  And then there's the last track: "Marais la Nuit," a 31 minute recording of the wetland adjoining the barn where Case partially recorded the album.  In other words, a field recording of frogs and insects, as lengthy as the human music on the album, made simultaneous to the recording of the human music on the album.  So the obvious question is "why include it?"  I don't think it's necessarily answerable, and I have not seen any interview with Case where she discusses her motivation for including it, but it fascinates me to think about.  As I got further and further into the track, which does not noticeably change or progress over its running time, I found myself thinking about the frogs and crickets singing their songs, which are, I assume, mechanisms for attracting mates and expressing metabolic or temperature changes. In other words, they are themselves songs of sex and survival, same as the other half of the album.  Is it something I look forward to listening to again, or would recommend to a general music fan?  No.  But it's something I found fascinating nonetheless, and I'm glad Case included it.