Music » Critics' Picks

Neko Case/Giant Sand

8 p.m. Wednesday, September 24. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard.

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You can forgive Neko Case for delaying the release of her next solo album, which is tentatively titled Middle Cyclone. After all, 2006's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood was such a towering monument to the singer-songwriter's considerable talents that a follow-up may seem like an impossible feat. Confessor cemented that Case was no longer just alt-country's pinup girl — it established her as an artist with a singular, if often grim, vision of American music. Her songs often function as fairy tales with nightmare endings or morality tales with no discernible moral — knotty, hand-hewn tunes that are lovely, dark and deep, often all at once. Cyclone isn't due until spring 2009, but in the meantime come hear Case test-drive new material, swoon as she tears through old favorites and watch her charm the audience with her off-the-cuff stage banter. Longtime Case associate Howe Gelb opens the show with his outfit Giant Sand.

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