I'm just going to go ahead and get this out of the way...Cat Power is hot. I mean, just take that picture up there as one example. Not only that, she is a special kind of hot because she's sort of mysterious and dark and often a little strange, which only increases the infatuation. Oh yeah, and she's pretty good at that whole music thing too.
The first time I heard of her was back in 2003 on a local radio station (KGSR or KUT), because they used to spin the track "He War" from time to time. Not long after that I caught her to live act at ACL Fest 2004, which was honestly a bit of a disappointment. She really just wasn't on top of her game that day and it showed. But when she came back to the festival for a second attempt in 2006, she put on a truly stellar performance that impressed my pants off. I really would've liked to see her play a longer set, and a buddy of mine who had never heard of her until that day has been in love with her ever since. Can't say that I blame him.
Another two years has passed and Chan Marshall has a new album, a new touring band, and apparently an improved diposition thanks to easing off the booze. Fans who attended a Cat Power show a few years ago might have witnessed frustrating antics, like onstage emotional breakdowns or erratically starting and stopping the band enough times to drive you nuts. But recently those incidents have been replaced by a dose of professionalism, and Cat Power performances have become more about the music than watching a trainwreck. Below is an excerpt from a review of a recent show:
"This edition of the indie-rock icon was definitely not your older sister’s Cat Power. Marshall’s newfound confidence is almost shocking for those who remember her whispering hoarsely while fumbling to get an E-chord sounding right on an acoustic guitar. Pacing the floorboards like a caged you-know-what and displaying a microphone technique Mick Jagger would admire, she belted out a nearly two-hour set that drew heavily on the covers that make up—or at least are connected with—her most recent album, Jukebox.Cat Power will be performing in Austin at Stubb's this Sunday, and I have a free pair of tickets to give away to anyone who wants to check it out. All you have to do is send an e-mail to email@example.com with Cat Power in the subject line, and tell me in 10 words or less how much you want to go to the show. Any reasonable answer will be considered, and I will contact the winner on Saturday with details of how to claim your tickets.
Cat Power’s enraptured admirers made it clear they weren’t going anywhere without an encore, and they weren’t disappointed. While connecting with the fans at the foot of the stage, Marshall—who has made a big deal over the past two years of being clean and sober—even took a silver flask out of someone’s outstretched hand and shoved it in her back pocket. After tossing flowers into the crowd, she made the international hand sign of impending drinkies and ran off into the darkness. It was reassuring, in a strange way, to know that the old Chan Marshall hadn’t completely disappeared."
A lot of times when I pull an all-nighter and need some low-key music to keep me company, I will invariably put on some Cat Power. One recording I've found that delivers comes from a 2004 film called Speaking For Trees. It features a two-hour solo performance of Cat Power, simply playing electric guitar and singing amidst the sounds of nature. The recording is as simple as it gets, featuring nothing but her and a guitar, out in the woods, with a bunch of crickets and an occasional airplane overhead. I uploaded 10 tracks from the film below if you want to try it on for size, and for more information on this you can head to Matador or Amazon.
- Cat Power - "Time Is on My Side"
- Cat Power - "Rule the Islands"
- Cat Power - "I Want"
- Cat Power - "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
- Cat Power - "Farewell My Enemy"
- Cat Power - "Sad, Sad Song"
- Cat Power - "Evolution"
- Cat Power - "Right Time/Back of Your Head"
- Cat Power - "I Don't Blame You"
- Cat Power - "From Fur City"