Peter Case is an authentic American folk-rebel with an underside of punk who has never lost true grit. There’s always something shambolic and slightly gruff, as the outtakes assembled for The Case Files (2011) witness, even when he is strumming sweet impassioned melodies.
Sure, many of his generation have a keen ear for the subtleties and wordplay of writing too, like Dave Alvin and Tom Russell, but Case always seems more persistent, more restless, more chuck-it-all and start from scratch. He’s the perennial outcast in the deluge of Americana music, the lone one who dares recast himself.
This tendency may link to his early years jumping up on stages to shellac a room with blues as a teenager in Buffalo, or the direct-action power-pop insurgency of the Nerves, who scrambled across America in 1977 in a dented car to roomfuls of blank stares. Then Case jettisoned the Plimsouls right as FM radio seemed willing to take them into cruise control land of unlikely hits.