Cass MCCombs

LIVE MUSIC: Cass McCombs @ Ottobar - 1/21/12

It’s important to note that taking in a performance by Cass McCombs isn’t so much simply about seeing the man performing his songs as it is engaging in an experience. Saturday night in Baltimore that experience was akin to a post-surgery, anesthetic fog, where the real world around you frequently fails to register, but those moments where the world does manage to slip through are, if anything, entirely and utterly pleasing. And this, at least if you’re Cass McCombs, is a good thing.

Cass McCombs @ Ottobar in Baltimore, MDDespite the fact that he is touring behind his second 2011 album, Humor Risk, the majority of that record, and the one that came before it were largely ignored by McCombs and his band. The set began with a druggy rendition of “Love Thine Enemy”, the opening track of Humor Risk, but from there took a sharp plunge into the dark, somewhat unexplored corners of McCombs catalog. The close to 90 minute performance weaved in and out of tracks from his earlier works. Songs from 2003’s A, and 2009’s Catacombs (you can see him perform “My Sister, My Spouse” from the show in the video below) and 2005’s Not The Way, dominated a pleasingly lethargic and moody set whose highlight seemed to be that it was simply happening.

Review: Cass McCombs - Humor Risk

2011 was a busy year for Cass McCombs. Besides building the air of mystery around him to an almost fever pitch (which included amongst other things a stage setup that completely obscured him and his bands faces) he managed to put out not one, but TWO albums of new material. Ryan Adams, it would seem, isn’t the only hyper-productive artist around these days...

International (?) Man of Mystery: Cass McCombs w/Lower Dens @ The Black Cat 7/15/11

The only thing visible besides the silhouettes of the assembled musicians is the occasional glint of a flash off a guitar, or the blinking lights of a random effects pedal. The crowd that has assembled listens eagerly as a dark, man shaped shadow explains from the stage how even though McComb’s is somewhat of a transitory musician, Chicago now claims the singer/songwriter as their own. Members of the crowd shout back “Baltimore!” (which is where his Wikipedia page claims he’s based. He’s not.) but the shadow from the stage isn’t hearing it. Instead he continues to run down the list of everything that makes Cass McComb’s music great. He’s the perfect hype man, though McCombs doesn’t really need it. He finishes, the band takes the stage in front of panels of blinking and shifting lights, and as they opening strains of “Buried Alive” hit the audience, it’s as if a bubble closed tight around the room, and we were all suddenly transported somewhere else.

Daily Listen: Cass McCombs - County Line

Long for the days of lava lamps and tapestries? I know I do, and apparently so does Cass McCombs. This track from his newest release Wits End, is postivily steeped in that Laurel Canyon sad 70's vibe that we all love so well. Or maybe it's just me. Who knows

Either way, this is one of those albums that you just sort of find, and in turn find out that it's quite good. So dim the lights, take some antidepressants and take a listen to the beginning of the journey that McCombs wants to take you on this time around.

Cass McCombs - County Line


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