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Sun


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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprising in almost Every Way
SUN is a surprising album. It's not surprisingly good - most of Cat Power's past releases have been solid and noteworthy, so there's no reason to suspect that this particular album would be bad. This album defies expectations from so many fronts: tone, sound, subject matter, and style. If you've come in expecting a Cat Power record, you'll be surprised.

It's...
Published on September 4, 2012 by T. A. Daniel

versus
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars i want so bad to like this album...
when i say i love cat power, that is putting it mildly. i have all her records and she is one of my favorite artists. so i was incredibly excited to hear her new record. i do not love it. i don't even like it a lot. it's just ok. here's the thing, chan has one of the most amazing and beautiful voices ever. it, in and of itself, is an incredible instrument. so to...
Published on October 6, 2012 by L. Bible


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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprising in almost Every Way, September 4, 2012
This review is from: Sun (Audio CD)
SUN is a surprising album. It's not surprisingly good - most of Cat Power's past releases have been solid and noteworthy, so there's no reason to suspect that this particular album would be bad. This album defies expectations from so many fronts: tone, sound, subject matter, and style. If you've come in expecting a Cat Power record, you'll be surprised.

It's been about 6 years since Cat Power's last full-length studio album (of original material), and in the meantime, singer/songwriter Chan Marshall has been through a lot: bankruptcy, rehabilitation, a high-profile break-up, and an awesome haircut (alright, so maybe that's a bit less important than the others). Where THE GREATEST was a understated, bluesy outing, SUN is a record filled with keyboards, synthesizers, and drum machines. SUN might be the biggest change in direction Cat Power has ever recorded, but it is also perhaps the most confident.

The album's first three tracks are among some of the best Cat Power have recorded: "Cherokee" makes no attempt to hide the songwriter's change of direction. Marked with loops and repetition, Marshall's vocals sound especially organic compared to her electronic backdrop. The second track, the selftitled "Sun", is a more aggressive song that finds Cat Power venturing towards dance territory (never thought I would write that sentence). With a distorted guitar providing a dark, brooding chord shift, the song finds an incredible groove that had me reaching for the "repeat" button. The lead single "Ruin", despite its subject matter, is propulsive and even bouncy at times. The song has a melody that stays with the listener long after the playing time is over.

Lyrically, SUN finds Cat Power battling personal demons: "3,6,9" centers around the refrain "3, 6, 9, you drink wine -- monkey on your back, you feel just fine." But it also finds the singer/songwriter inspired with some more life-affirming and inspirational moments: "Nothing but Time" convinces listeners that they too can be "superheros" and to keep their heads up through the rough bits. "Human Being" muses on the individuality and interconnectedness of the human condition. "Ruin" and "Peace and Love" look at corruption and devastation on a more global scale.

The penultimate track "Nothing But Time" is appropriately named, running at just shy of 11 minutes. The track features Iggy Pop providing back-up vocals, an artist who has also seen his share of ups and downs. Unfortunately, his presence feels post-hoc, and often, the song would have benefited from his absence. The last track, and apparently Chan Marshall's favorite, is "Peace and Love," another aggressive track that feels like a culmination of everything on SUN; it's rough, littered with electronics and guitar, and angry with the world (particularly the government). Some of the more rap-inspired (regarding her delivery) come across as a bit awkward, but it's an effective way to close the album.

SUN's biggest problem however has absolutely nothing to do with the songwriting: the mix ranges from decent to not good. Some of the tracks sound overly compressed, and there's too much gain given to the bass drum kick - so much so that it often dominates the music. There are a few moments in the album's back half that sag, especially compared to some of the first tracks here.

Listeners coming into this expecting another YOU ARE FREE or THE GREATEST might find a bit of disappointment. SUN isn't Cat Power's best album, but it's the work of an artist in transition, and it's not without its creative high-points. Essential tracks to sample/download: "Ruin," "Cherokee," and "Sun." It's hard to predict where she will go from here, but after hearing SUN, it's hard not to be interested.

(Additional release information!)
There's a few different ways you can buy this album, and depending on where you go, you may find yourself with different bonus tracks. The iTunes releases comes with two bonus tracks: "Fire" and "Back in the Days (for Christopher Wallace)." The Amazon release only comes with one bonus track: "King Rides By." If you want all three of these tracks, the Japanese import includes them -- otherwise, you'll have to buy them separately.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chan Marshall finds her way back from the edge., September 4, 2012
This review is from: Sun (Audio CD)
One listen to Sun and you'd never know that here is an album that almost didn't get made. "B**chin', complainin,' when some people who ain't got s**t to eat / b**chin,' moanin,' so many people you know they got," goes the lead-in to the chorus on first single "Ruin," and that, of course, sounds just like Chan Marshall, but certainly not in this context. The sound is lush, a Glass-ian keyboard motif circling up around that ricocheting guitar line and a propulsive funk rhythm suitable to get lost in. "Cherokee," too, reveling in some haunting electronic textures and that wonderful "whumpf" sound that accompanies Marshall's pained entreaties to "bury me, marry me to the sky." It's unlike anything Cat Power has put to record in her long career, which has been as bleak as it has been impressive over twenty years. What Sun does resemble, however, should be welcome news to any fans of her work: a new beginning.

Marshall's last album of original material, 2006's The Greatest, was the perfect snapshot, a painstakingly rendered mosaic of `60s soul, gospel, and delta blues, mired in the sepia-toned pop of her Memphis childhood home. "Home" being a relevant term, of course; Marshall's father was a traveling blues musician who moved his daughter all around the South with him. It's something that permeates Marshall's work even here, where traditional sing-a-long "3,6,9" tackles that old blues trope, the monkey on your back, in four quick, painful minutes. That monkey nearly derailed Marshall's career after The Greatest, leading to hospitalization and bankruptcy, and it's that long road back that Sun so succinctly details. Where The Greatest seemed as grief-stricken and world-weary as its influences, Sun is remarkably uptempo, utilizing her new affinity for electronic beats and bubbling atmospherics to great effect. Marshall has said in interviews that recording and producing the album almost entirely by herself helped her get away from the second guessing and encouraged her to try new things, the synthesizer in particular. It fits nicely with Marshall's smoky, soulful voice, and her lyrics, which zip hopefully from the melancholy Native American imagery in opener "Cherokee" to climax "Nothin But Time." Bloated as it is at nearly eleven minutes long and even featuring the patron saint of self-destruction, Iggy Pop, it never fails to soar, taking the record's theme of inner peace to its logical, ringing conclusion.

Perhaps it took a while for Marshall to find herself, but Sun is unerringly confident in its adventuring, even when it stumbles. "Peace and Love," with Marshall in venomous confrontation mode, seems out of place after the triumphant "Nothin But Time," and "Real Life" never develops much of a hook beyond its warped production. Yet Sun remains, beyond a mere reaffirmation of Marshall's renewed mental outlook, a fine endorsement of Cat Power's often overlooked prowess as a songwriter and producer, embellishing the contours of each individual track while strengthening her own voice. "Manhattan" places the onus solely on Marshall's lovely vocals, painting a desolate picture of New York City over a spartan beat and some jittery drum fills, while "Always On My Own's" multi-tracked fog is appropriately eerie. Throughout it all, Marshall seems more intrepid than she has been in over a decade and in turn more inspired, without sacrificing any of that emotional immediacy she has been known for. It's been a long road back, but Sun is a rewarding return to a new Cat Power, one who seems more at ease with her music and herself than ever before. The greatest reward, though, will be seeing where she goes from here.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loving Cat Power's new sound, October 26, 2012
This is certainly a departure from Cat Power's previous work, but it is a welcome change. Her new album is catchy and fun to listen to. I will, however, be going back to the old Cat Power too.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice to have her back, September 4, 2012
By 
Kenneth (nottingham, england) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sun (Audio CD)
When Cat Power named her 2006 album The Greatest, I got the feeling she was being ironically self-deprecating, that's not because it wasn't a brilliant album, it was In fact one of the standouts of that year and even won her the Shortlist Music Prize. It's just that Chan marshall's not particularly well known for being a self-assured or conceited individual, so I'd just figured she was having an inside joke with her devout listeners who'd have no problem spotting the tongue firmly in her cheek.

With the completion of Cat Power's latest album Sun, coinciding with her split from boyfriend Giovanni Ribisi, I anticipated a brutal and bitter break up record here and once again saw the title as another demonstration of Chan's wryness. There's no misdirection going on though, Sun sounds precisely how you'd think an album would sound with that title; vibrant, positive and above all wonderfully accessible.

The Instruments on Sun are what make it sound so virile and energetic, bright Synthesizers and trip hop beats are often laced with lovely piano motifs and lightly distorted guitar. This doesn't turn the album into a saccharin love-in though, Chan's soulful alto hasn't disappeared (even if it is modulated at times) and her lyrics can still be dark and brooding on here too. The albums actually begins with lyrics about Death and resigned disappointment on opener "Cherokee" but Cat Power sounds so defiant and invigorated when she's singing them, especially when the danceable electronic beat comes in a third of the way through to accompany her.

"3,6,9" is really where her new direction becomes most apparent, the use of autotune and the boom bap beats will perhaps intially alarm a few diehards who thinks she's diluted her forlorn essence in favour of gimmicky pop dalliances. But it's disposable lyrics and quasi ephemeral instrumentation are used as tools to celebrate how liberated she's become here and if you listen without any preconceived notions as to what a Cat Power song should be, it's actually a really fun track.

Lead single "Ruin" really shows how deft she can be as a producer as well as a musician; the song is expertly sequenced with a captivating keyboard riff that revolves around soft percussion, a chicken scratch guitar and Cat Power's mellifluous vocals. Initially the lyrics sound like a preachy clarion call for westerners to wake up and realise just how lucky they are. However it becomes apparent after repeat listens that she's actually singing about herself with the "B*thcin complaining" line, which give's the song's kerouac sense of propulsion an inverted twist.

The track I imagine most people will be talking about on Sun is "Nothin but Time" though; it's unapologetically epic at 11 minutes, features Iggy Pop and has Cat Power singing the most tender lyrics of her career. Sonically the song essentially repeats the same drum groove and piano loop for it's entirity but the aforementioned elements mean it only just outstays it's welcome. Some have been hailing Sun as Chan's best album yet and although i personally wouldn't quite go that far, i must say how remarkably she's transitioned into the new sound on here without abandoning the very elements that made her so fascinating in the first place.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of her best albums, September 15, 2012
By 
This album is really amazing. If you can't appreciate this, I really don't understand whats going on with you. I love all Cat Power, You are Free, Moon Pix and WWTCT are my favorite albums of hers, but I pretty much love all her live stuff, early stuff... this is also just such a sweet album it should speak for itself. Just listen to this album... Its a masterpiece. Those of you that can't appreciate this, or are talking about "Indie Rock" like there is some kinda code you have to follow .... I truly feel sorry for you. It's easily her 2nd or 3rd best album, easy. Artists have to change to be relevant ! And this is change in a positive and really good way. I love Manhattan, Human Being, Ruin, Fire, Back in the Day, Peace and Love, Cherokee, Sun, Always on My Own... I love almost all these songs. To have this album rated only 3 and a half stars when all kinds of other mainstream trash is getting higher ratings is a total travesty and just shows you that people can't appreciate genius when it's right in front of them and have no taste !
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not on Par with some of her earlier work, May 10, 2013
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This review is from: Sun (Audio CD)
This album has a few really good songs and a few that just feel like filler to me. The filler songs are sort of slow and plodding or repetitive, like Nothing But Time. I didn't find it as imaginative or consistent as some of her earlier work, but it may be more accessible to a wider audience. Very different than You Are Free, my favorite Cat Power album.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting, September 22, 2012
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Beautiful and unusual. Much more lively and, dare I say catchy, than her previous stuff. Perfect chill music for an iconoclastic mood.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of her best.., September 17, 2012
By 
Mike (Menominee, MI) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sun (Audio CD)
I cannot wrap my mind around the lukewarm or negative reviews for this album. While it does sound different than anything she has released, it's still Chan behind it all and fans of her music should expect change and not expect another 'Covers Record' or 'The Greatest" (which is the greatest...) Whether it be her changing vocals as she progressed or the transition from barely there guitar to the pounding beats laid out on this album, Cat Power is evolution in progress... and now you can dance to her.
Key Tracks-
Cherokee (my favorite on 'Sun')
Ruin
3,6,9
Human Being
Nothin' But Time
This album sounds like Beck or Danger Mouse produced it, when we know she did it all herself.. produced, written, played and belted out by my favorite jazzy smoky voiced soulful white lady.. There has to be credit given to an artist who does all of the work themselves, which is a far cry from radio garbage written by some old guy, horribly sung by some 16 year old brat then regurgitated too us all. If you bought the CD instead of downloading, make sure you purchase 'King Rides By (Bonus Track)' MP3 on here, I used the $1 promo credit from buying the cd from Amazon to purchase the mp3..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hearing Chan Marshall evolve oh yea!, February 21, 2014
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This review is from: Sun (Audio CD)
If you are into Cat Power you may be in a sweet minority
because she isn't for everyone thank goodness. But if you
love her work this will be a new leg in your journey as she
moves in a different direction in terms of her musical arrangements
and instrumentation and so forth. Some will hate it and long for the
older stuff. Others who don't like her old stuff will now become Cat Power
fans. When I hear it I cannot help but think that the sun may be shining
a little brighter in the life of Chan Marshall after years of struggle. More
power to you, Chan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CAT POWER IS THE GREATEST!, October 8, 2014
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This review is from: Sun (Audio CD)
CAT POWER IS "THE GREATEST". If you have never listened to Cat Power, take the time to listen to this CD. Her voice is like no other. Sultry, sexy, powerful, inviting. She is one of my favorite all-time female singers. I would love to see her perform live and almost had the opportunity when she came to Austin, Texas in 2013. I missed the show unfortunately, but I will continue to support Cat Power by purchasing her CD's.
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Sun
Sun by Cat Power (Audio CD - 2012)
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