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Cat Power

From Academic Kids

Cat Power is the name of a band that centers around Atlanta-born singer and songwriter Chan (pronounced "Shawn") Marshall. (She was born Charlyn Marie Marshall but shortened her name when she was 12 years old.) Marshall is Cat Power's only constant, and though she often works with other musicians, she has recorded entire records and performed entire concerts and tours on her own, accompanying her highly distinctive voice on guitar and piano.

Cat Power's music has the distinctive quality of being very 'empty' or minimalist, sometimes classified as gothic blues. Her albums have been described as sad or depressing, and her voice praised as cathartic. Her music is also distinctive in that it often, though not always, contains no bass guitar and her songs very rarely follow the conventional verse-chorus-verse song structure and usually do not feature choruses at all.

After dropping out of high school, Chan Marshall moved to New York City, where she was asked to open for Liz Phair. On the tour, she met Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth and Tim Foljahn of Two Dollar Guitar. The two men agreed to help her record music.

Her first album, Dear Sir, was recorded on the same day as her second album, Myra Lee, although the two were released a year apart, and on different record labels. Marshall signed to Matador Records in 1996. Her Matador debut, What Would the Community Think, was released the same year and spawned a rare single, "Nude As the News".

Her second album for Matador, 1998's Moon Pix, saw Marshall move to Australia and record with Mick Turner and Jim White of Dirty Three. During the tours that followed, she grew tired of her own songs and started covering other artists' compositions. According to Marshall, Matador asked for a new record and because she had been "playing all these songs that I loved and loved and loved," she made the decision to record them instead of writing new songs. The results of various sessions in 1998 and 1999 were collected and released in 2000 as The Covers Record.

In 2003 she released You are Free, which featured musical support from Eddie Vedder, offering a scarcely recognizable touch of his vocals on two tracks, and Dave Grohl, who played drums on a number of tracks. The album marked a musical transition in Marshall's career, bringing more rock music taste to her previous melodrama. She has cited Gus Van Sant's Good Will Hunting as an influence on the album.

The Cat Power live experience has garnered a degree of notoriety for its chaotic lack of polish and structure. Songs are frequently cut short for no apparent reason, or tail off into what sounds like an extended bout of guitar tuning. Some listeners bristle at this lack of direction, while others have been enchanted by the free-form nature and honesty of the performances.

She is notable both as a songwriter and as an innovative interperator of other artists' songs. Her cover versions often ignore the melodies and lyrical hooks of the originals, as evidenced by her renditions of Dylan's "Knocking on Heaven's Door" and Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," or alter the mood of the song altogether. as with her recording of Oasis' "Wonderwall". The music is similarly stripped down, often to little more than a electric guitar with a clean tone and her voice.

Interviews reveal her to be more than the self-loathing depressive loner stereotype of the indie/alternative musician. In fact she is quite the opposite and has often revealed herself to be outgoing and, as one British magazine put it, "a person all about people". She often gives abstract, cryptic answers to straightforward questions but at the same time comes across as very sincere and unpretentious. She is also very aware of her limitations, once commenting that "I know people want the rock but I can't give it to them" and that she wished she could make music more like the Blues Explosion.

Most recently Marshall has done advertisements for Gap clothing; guested on Handsome Boy Modeling School's album White People; and released the live DVD Speaking for Trees. She has also thrown herself behind numerous charitable causes, including "The Bereaved Israeli and Palestinian Parents' Circle" and PETA, and appeared at the "Fuck Cancer Benefit".

Discography

External links

fr:Cat Power

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