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It has come to my attention that I have never reviewed a Cass McCombs record before. This dude must’ve been churning out the discs for about 10 years now so it’s about time I scribed something about him I suppose. Here’s his latest, and possibly his most ambitious to date - a mammoth 19-song double album which it’s very difficult to penetrate in the weekly race against time that is Review Mountain.
Cass has always been one of those songwriters who, while generally sticking to the rule book, consistently delivers pleasing results, causing me to be pleasantly surprised every time he brings something out. While it is ambitious in size, ‘Big Wheel And Others’ actually sees McCombs in a fairly low key mood, with breezy shuffling drums, touches of loungey sax and sultry sometimes Knopfler-esque guitar picking.
The simple, heartfelt songwriting recalls the likes of Elliott Smith (but less depressed), Daniel Johnston (but less mental), Eels (but less self-obsessed) and Randy Newman (but less naive), and it’s these sentimental and uncluttered songs which serve his style the best so it’s nice to see him largely sticking to those downbeat pop ditties rather than upping the ante with clunky indie rock fuzz. If I have a criticism it’s that there’s just too much material here to digest and it gets a bit monochrome because of the lack of dynamic variation over such a long period. The songs themselves are finely crafted things, though; confident, workmanlike...his fans won’t be disappointed.
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- Big Wheel (And Others) by Cass McCombs
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