taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviews of the moment

PETER CASE—The Case Files

Peter Case has apparently been feeling a bit nostalgic in recent years. After putting out a remastered disc of tracks from his first band the Nerves in 2008, he followed it up by finally releasing recordings by the Breakways, the band that would be the placeholder until his most celebrated act the Plimsouls became a reality. Of course, then there was the recording of a 1981 Plimsouls show he released as an album in 2010, but we can’t forget Case’s solo discography, right? For what’s essentially a disc full of refuse, Case’s latest release The Case Files is a surprisingly concrete look at the many faces of the Buffalo-born songwriter, once you get past the sheer randomness of it that is. The hodgepodge of demo tracks, studio outtakes and muddied live cuts has the solid bluesy track (“(Give Me) One More Mile”), the jangly power ballad (“Anything (Closing Credits)”), the Steve Earle-inspired political anthem (“Let’s Turn This Thing Around”), and a few covers and a traditional tune just to be safe. The best songs, of course, are those with a thread of ire running through them, “Turn This Thing” and “Ballad of the Minimum Wage” for example, though their shelf life expired around the same time dada’s “Diznee Land” did. It’s clear why those tracks in particular were rejects, however, as the smattering of sound effects he uses to underscore the individual points in both does nothing but clutter otherwise solid tracks. Still, Case has mined a few hunks of gold here, his cover of Alejandro Escovedo’s “The End” standing out the most, and as nice as it is to see Case looking back over his 30-plus year career like this, hopefully his next step is forward.

Peter Case will perform at the Triad Stage this Thursday as a part of the EMFfringe series.