case/lang/veirs, Dope or Nope, and 46 Seconds of Film

The cover artwork for the album case/lang/veirs

Welcome to What’s the Buzz, where members of our staff provide you with recommendations on a weekly basis. Each week a rotating cast of writers will offer their recommendations based on things they have discovered. They won’t always be new to the world, but they’ll be new to us, or we hope new to you. This week, Daniel Siuba can’t stop listening to case/lang/veirs, Hawk Ripjaw recommends Dope or Nope on YouTube, and Robert Chipman is blown away by the first 46 seconds of Mortal Kombat (1995).


Daniel: Released in 2016, the album case/lang/veirs combines the extraordinary talents of singer-songwriters Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs. The tracks don’t separate the singers as much as rearrange their order, so one singer takes center stage while the other two members vocally and instrumentally support them.

I haven’t been able to stop listening to case/lang/veirs since I first heard it in June 2021. I heard “Atomic Number” first, which happens to be the opening track of the album. This song is an ideal starting point, because all three singers are prominently featured throughout the entire piece. The song is an interesting blend of science, relational yearning, and a subtle fight for purity. After I listened to “Atomic Number” a few times, I listened to the album in its entirety and was completely hooked.

If I had to describe the album to you, I’d say that it’s about the beauty and mystery of nature and human relationships. It’s thoughtful, exuberant, lonesome, content, grateful, and in awe of the natural beauty of the world.

k.d. lang’s songs are sultry and romantic: she’s always singing to someone she’s entangled with or someone she yearns for. Her voice is like honey butter: it’s sweet, savory, and deeply satisfying. Also, lang’s backing vocals and harmonies absolutely shine. The unique timbre of her voice, coupled with her masterful control of it, accentuates the inherent beauty of every melody she supports. Her voice is like an unexpected complementary color that enhances the overall palette of the piece.

Veirs’s voice is luminous and focused, like a column of sunlight piercing a cloud. Veirs tends to sing faster, wordier songs. Her presence pulsates; she is gentle but insistent, soft but confident. The songs that prominently feature Veirs (“Best Kept Secret,” “I Want To Be Here,”) are filled with gratitude, warmth, and joy. “Georgia Stars,” the last song on the album, includes a flurry of animals and a cluster of stars: “Great bear, dog, bull, flying fish/ Scorpion, peacock, make your wish/ Pleiades, sisters seven on high/Singing in the heaven’s silver light.” It’s simultaneously earthly and cosmic and is the perfect anthem to end the album.

To me, Case’s songs are the most poignant of the record. They evoke scenes of solitary reflection, like the lone woman of “Down I-5,” which features one of my favorite arrangements of the album. In the left speaker, there is an incessant drumbeat, like a stream of cars and semis careening down a freeway, the sound of pure momentum. In the right speaker, there is a sparse, bright piano; each key echoes into the distance, stirring up pangs of feeling, like the emotions that slowly climb out of us during long, solitary drives. Case’s voice sits in the middle, balancing these complementary sonic streams, telling us the story as we ride shotgun.

Of all the songs on case/lang/veirs, my personal favorite is “Supermoon.” To me, this song brings together the strongest elements of the album in a climactic moment that is both poignant and mysterious. The world of this song contains the moon, the river, the insatiable pioneers, and the loneliness of the night sky. Case’s vocal performance is striking: at one moment, her voice rings out like a thundering river, and at the next, she’s like a cascade of gentle rain.

The combination of Case’s voice, Veirs’s guitar, the waterfall strings, and lang’s backing vocals all make for a brilliant conclusion. Early on, lang’s vocals undulate softly below the surface, but at the end of the song, they become more pronounced. Her voice lifts into the air and blooms like a puff of smoke. Then, as if preparing for a leap, the song pulls in a sharp in-breath and abruptly ends.

In our world of uncertainty, instability, and chaos, everything about this album feels certain, grounded, and definitively ordered from start to finish. It’s something you can lean on, lean into, savor, and enjoy.

Written by TV Obsessive

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