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Case mines powerful statement from rough stretch

| Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

‘The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, the More I Love You'

Neko Case (Anti)

★★★★

Neko Case's music always has had its share of darkness to it, but she always was telling other people's tales. Now, after four of the toughest years of her life battling depression, confidence issues, and the death of multiple family members, she turns the focus on herself, and the murk never has been thicker.

Her music finds a new level of emotional power, as she examines where she is in life, how she feels disconnect from her family, and dealing with her rising inner turmoil, especially when, on incredible “Where Did I leave That Fire?” she admits, “I wanted so badly not to be me.” There is plenty more, from scathing first single “Man”; sad, weary folk number “I'm From Nowhere”; and heart-shattering “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu,” an a capella track that contains the saddest, most infuriating tale of emotional child abuse you'll ever here, and her encouragement for a child who may never hear it. This is Case's most unique, powerful statement to date.

‘Pain Is Beauty'

Chelsea Wolfe (Sargent House)

★★★★

Chelsea Wolfe's music can be disarming if you're not fully paying attention. Its gorgeous noir and shadowy brilliance can sometimes make you miss the darkness and danger buried in her songs, and her latest full-length “Pain Is Beauty” takes her template and floods it with colorful new flourishes.

The 12 tracks on this alarming new record are impressive and strangely dreamy, from the alluring, haunting “We Hit a Wall,” that reminds of PJ Harvey; the swaggering, reverb-dripping “Destruction Makes the World Burn Brighter”; weird and bouncy “Ancestors the Ancients,” that sounds treated with a thick, mind-altering syrup; and the beautifully drowning “They'll Clap When You're Gone.” Every Wolfe record turns her into a new beast, and she's never been this powerful before.

Brian Krasman is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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