March 21, 2000
SUN is the new studio album from Cat Power. Six years after her last album of original material, Chan Marshall has moved on from her collaborative forays into Memphis soul and Delta blues. She wrote, played, recorded and produced the entirety of SUN by herself, a statement of complete control that is echoed in the songs’ themes.
Marshall calls SUN “a rebirth,” which is exactly what this confident, ambitious, charismatic record feels like. “Moon Pix was about extreme isolation and survival in the crazy struggle,” she says. "SUN is don't look back, pick up, and go confidently into your own future, to personal power and fulfillment."
The music on SUN employs a sweeping stylistic palette: There’s the classic Cat Power haunting guitar and provocative vocal hook in "Cherokee" (“marry me to the sky…bury me upside down”); the irresistible Latin-sounding nine-piano loop of “Ruin”; upbeat, almost dancey electronic anthems like "Real Life" and "3,6,9"; and the stirring, 8-minute epic "Nothin But Time," featuring a vocal cameo by Iggy Pop. The swagger of “Silent Machine” brings to mind mid-70s Jagger, contrasted with the unusual, sparse production of “Always on My Own.” The narrative arc of the record is deeply American in its spaciousness and optimism; the music is defiantly modern and global.
Though devoid of grave bedroom confessionals, SUN is possibly Cat Power’s most personal album to date. For all its layered expansiveness, it is as handcrafted as her debut, and never has a Cat Power album so paralleled her personality and state of mind – channeling her humor, anger, deep empathy, musical inspirations, technical skill, and spiritual inquiry into an album that’s both surprising and comforting.
Those versed in the Cat Power discography will detect elements of 2003's landmark album You Are Free, which experimented with vocal forms and beats borrowed from urban music, and the spellbinding authority of songs like “American Flag.” Sonically, however, with credit to mixer Philippe Zdar (Phoenix, Chromeo, Beasties), SUN is incredibly fresh, reflecting its forward-looking mindset.
Lyrically, Marshall has transcended the angst and self-absorption of her young self, but is still inspired by youth; much of the album is a plea for overcoming societal expectation and individual oppression. “Human Being” puts faint minor-chord fingerpicking over spooky, repetitive bass, with lyrics that could read as feminist – “you got a right to scream when they don’t want you to speak” – but are for anyone who feels they don’t have a voice. “Peace And Love” opens with a Nina Simone line – “peace and love is a famous generation” – then cites Black Flag, flips off people who dismissed her teenage idealism, and proudly concludes, “I’m a lover but I’m in it to win.” Similarly, “Nothin But Time” implores kids to look past today: “You’re just trying to get by, but your world is just beginning…it’s up to you to be a superhero, it’s up to you to be like nobody”.
SUN was recorded over the past three years in Malibu (in a studio she built herself), Silver Lake (in the Dust Brothers’ studio The Boat), Miami (South Beach Studios), and Paris (Motorbass), where she mixed with Zdar in spring 2012.
Cat Power is touring the world with a new band beginning in Fall 2012.
PRODUCED BY: CHAN MARSHALL
ALL SONGS BY: CAT POWER
ALL INSTRUMENTS: CHAN MARSHALL
MIXED BY: PHILIPPE ZDAR
ENGINEERED BY: JEF DOMINGUEZ
AND: MIKE LAZA, MARC LEE, DREW MANNE, BRIAN LEBARTON,
PHILLIP BROUSSARD JR., BASTIEN BEASTIE VEE VANDEVELDERICK BRYANT, MATT
KNOBLE, ALEX GRAUPERA, ALYSSA PITTALUGA
ASSIST ENGINEERS: JULIEN NAUDIN, BASTIEN BEASTIE VEE VANDEVELDE
AND: JON TEHEL, ALYSSA PITTALUGA, ALEX GRAUPERA, JOE BRADY, NICK
BROWN, JORDAN BOULAY, CHRIS WARREN
IGGY POP APPEARS COURTESY OF THOUSAND MILE INC.
ADDITIONAL INSTRUMENTAL ACCOMPANIMENT ON RUIN:
JIM WHITE-DRUMS, ERIK PAPARAZZI-BASS, GREGG FOREMAN-PIANO,
RECORDED AT: MOTORBASS/PARIS, SOUTH BEACH STUDIOS/MIAMI, BISON/MALIBU,
Greatest (the brand-new album)
January 24, 2006
Greatest: Slipcase Edition
January 24, 2006
Chan Marshall stops time. She sits at a piano or lays
her guitar across her lap, and whether it’s a
noisy club overflowing with drunks or a coffee house
full of laptoppers, Chan Marshall draws all the attention
in the room and makes the world stop spinning. As Cat
Power, Marshall’s music seems to rise from nowhere,
envelop the room, then vanish; listeners know they’ve
been hit by something but they’re not sure what.
For 'The Greatest' (not a greatest hits, but the brand-new
studio album), Marshall returned to Memphis, pursuing
this time the slinky Hi Records sound of the 70s, famed
for its sensuous feel and beguiling rhythms. She got
Al Green’s guitarist and songwriting partner Mabon
"Teenie" Hodges to play guitar on the whole
album (Teenie co-wrote "Love and Happiness"
and "Take Me to the River," among other soul
classics). With Teenie came his Hi Rhythm bandmate (and
brother) Leroy "Flick" Hodges, who plays on
half of the album (Memphis A-team bassist Dave Smith
supplements). Anchoring the band is Steve Potts, whose
reputation on drums was solidified when the surviving
members of Booker T. and the MG’s asked him to
replace their late drummer, Al Jackson. Other top Memphis
musicians guest on keyboards, horns and strings. Cat
Power went right to the sources, and has created her
own paean to the songs and styles she grew up on.
'The Greatest' adds to Cat Power’s singular sound
all the elements that make an Al Green record great:
Memphis horns, funky string arrangements, smooth background
vocals. "Lived in Bars" is a hypnotic song
that seems to start in the middle of the night and flow
backward like water upstream to the source of a good
time. Many songs hearken back to earlier in Cat Power’s
career, like the surface simplicity of "Willie"—much
more complicated upon deeper listen—and like "Where
Is My Love," which sounds like it could be the
first song she ever wrote, and also the one to which
she has always aspired. "Living Proof," on
the other hand, has an almost gospel-like swing that
stands in contrast to the quieter songs. The ethereal
title track is the missing link between Big Star 3rd
and the 21st century; if Alex Chilton were today a beautiful
young woman, he’d sound like this.
Recording in Memphis is actually a return performance
for Chan Marshall. She first came to the city of Southern
Soul in February 1996 to record her second album, 'What
Would The Community Think?' The engineer on that session
was Stuart Sikes, who recorded many sessions at the
Easley-McCain Studio. Sikes leapt from indie-rock notoriety
to mainstream prominence with his work mixing Loretta
Lynn’s Jack White-produced Van Lear Rose, which
won a Grammy.
This album was recorded at Ardent Studios, the renowned
home to the Big Star legacy, also used by Stax as their
alternate studio, and graced by everyone from Bob Dylan
to the North Mississippi All Stars. And now, also, Cat
All songs by Chan Marshall
Chan Marshall - guitar, piano, vocal
Mabon "Teenie" Hodges –
guitar on all songs except hate
Steve Potts - drums
Leroy "Flick" Hodges - bass
on the moon, lived in bars, the greatest, love &
David Smith - bass on living proof,
could we, empty shell, willie, islands, after it all
Doug Easley - guitar, Pedal Steel
Rick Steff - keyboards, Claitone, Piano,
Jim Spake - sax
Scott Thompson - trumpet
Roy Brewer - violin
Johnathan Kirkscey - cello
Beth Luscone - viola
String arrangements by Harlan T Bobo, Johnathan Kirkscey
and Chan Marshall
Recorded by Stuart Sikes at Ardent Studios
Mixed by Stuart Sikes and Chan Marshall
Cat Power select discography:
'Dear Sir' (Plain, 1995)
'Myra Lee' (Smells Like, 1996)
'What Would The Community Think' (Matador, 1996)
'Moon Pix' (Matador, 1998)
'The Covers Record' (Matador, 2000)
'You Are Free' (Matador, 2003)
'The Greatest' (Matador, 2006)
February 18, 2003
Cat Powers Chan (pronounced "Shawn") Marshall
exists on a plane somewhat different than yours or mine, as
anybody who has heard her sing knows. Her voice is unlike
anyone youve heard before, combining raw intimacy with
a gruff, chalky confidence, and while any attempt to interpret
her lyrics comes up short, their plain-spoken lines belie
an otherwordly perspective on primal human emotions. She's
abstract, but always honest and true. That awareness has caused
a tidal wave of adulation for Chan from her giant fan base,
one that has tripled with each new record released. Theyll
go anywhere with her, trusting that it always leads to a familiar
place that will never seem the same.
Recorded by Adam Kasper (Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters,
Pearl Jam), You Are Free is Chans first record of original
material since 1998s Moon Pix, and she's at the apex
of her talents. She's fascinated with American music, as heard
through her covers of songs by Dylan, Lou Reed, Moby Grape,
and traditional folk on her last release, The Covers Record,
and has absorbed its history into her own. Broken down to
their essentials, songs like "Good Woman," "Fool"
and "Speak For Me" could have been written sixty
years ago on a rural Mississippi back porch, but Chan ably
personalizes the traditional so it sounds handmade for the
You Are Free represents a breathing history of music as seen
through the eyes of a skilled musician on her way to becoming
a national heirloom.
SELECT CAT POWER DISCOGRAPHY
Dear Sir 10"/CD (Runt [Italy], 1995)
Myra Lee LP/CD (Smells Like, 1996)
What Would The Community Think LP/CD (Matador, 1996)
Moon Pix LP/CD (Matador, 1998)
The Covers Record LP/CD (Matador, 2000)
You Are Free LP/CD (Matador, 2003)
March 21, 2000
"An undoubted talent...her chocolatey, sublime vocals evoke
betrayal, heartache, and renewal more poetically than clumsy
words ever could." Melody Maker
Cat Power is the nom de plume of Chan Marshall, good cop.
Her last record, Moon Pix, was released in September 1998
and was hailed 'round the world as a paragon of modern songwriting.
On The Covers Record, Chan applies her remarkable interpretive
skills to a wide variety of influences, accompanying herself
on only piano or guitar. Almost gruesome in its melancholy
(think Pink Moon, Drama Of Exile, Music For A New Society...),
she de/reconstructs these songs often to the point of unrecognizability.
The result is one of the most striking records we've heard
in years, a masterpiece of mood, and another wonderful display
of her extraordinary personality.
1) "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" - The Rolling Stones
2) "Kingsport Town" - Traditional, from Bob Dylan version
3) "The Devil's Daughter" - Michael Hurley
4) "Naked If I Want To" - Moby Grape
5) "Swee Dee Dee" - Michael Hurley
6) "In This Hole" - Chan Marshall
7) "I Found A Reason" - Velvet Underground
8) "Wild Is The Wind" - Nina Simone
9) "Red Apples" - Smog
10) "Paths Of Victory" - Bob Dylan
11) "Salty Dog" - Traditional
12) "Sea Of Love" - Phil Phillips
In stores now.
September 22, 1998
TO THE UNRIVALED MASTER OF THE AMERICAN MYSTERY MOON PIX,
BY M.T. KINNEY
Chan Marshall wrote very good songs for a very long time without
anybody noticing. In 1974, one of her songs was made into
the film ROCKETS, starring Buddy Bolden, and nobody noticed.
In that film, Marshall herself played the professionaltrainer
of the fighting cocks, and was just as laconic and offbeat
an actor as she was a songwriter, and still nobody noticed.
And then came along MOON PIX.
From where? After all Marshall's years in the wilderness,
writing good songs nobody noticed, why did MOON PIX come along
to change it all, to force Marshall to come back for song
after song, to make listeners suddenly notice this quirky,
oddball, invigorating voice that had been in their midst unheard
for so long?
I think I know where MOON PIX came from. I knew Marshall some
in the last years of her life, and found her gentle and knowledgable
and absolutley secure in her own persona, which makes her
on the surface much different from that final creation of
hers. Cat Power is anything but secure, has come nowhere near
fighting her way to the calm plateau Marshall had reached.
So where did she come from?
Out of the wildernees. I think MOON PIX came out of that same
wilderness in which Marshall had labored for so long. Chan
Marshall was never a failure, in the sense that her songs
are very good songs, carefully wrought. Her career might stutter
along in obscurity, but the songs were solid. And I think
the only way she could go on doing that year after year, without
either giving up or turning bitter, was that she'd trained
herself to know that the work was very important but at the
same time it didn't matter at all. And the extension from
that was that all of life was very important but at the same
time it didn't matter at all. I believe that particular self-induced
schizophrenia got Marshall through the lean years and let
her keep on singing, and I believe it ultimately produced
MOON PIX, which doesn't so much share that worldview as live
Cat Power is a good cop, or at least she tries to be a good
cop, but in her Miami, one good cop is about as useful as
one good paper towel in a hurricane. Cat Power is constantly
bested by people tougher and meaner than she is, she's contantly
lied to and betrayed, she's constantly faced with the futility
of what she's doing, and yet she keeps moving doggedly forward,
and among the greater hopelessness she does bring off some
modest- and very satisfying- successes.
I don't mean that MOON PIX was Chan Marshall's alter ego.
I mean that Marshall's experience of her life led her to a
certain attitude toward the world and her place in it, and
this attitude, ironic without meaness, comic but deeply caring,
informed every song she ever wrote, from her three records
of autobiography through all the unoticed singles, and that
finally MOON PIX embodied this attitude more completely than
anything else she's ever done.
What Would the Community Think
September 10, 1996