Cass McCombs – Big Wheel And Others (2013)

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I find it necessary to make it clear that it takes a whole lot of patience to listen to the good 90 minutes of music on Big Wheel And Others. Cass McCombs is well-known as a meticulous and fastidious musician, but that perseverance pays off.

The native Californian is not afraid to accommodate rock, punk and folk into an album — and this one, which contains 22 songs, has the necessary space for it.

Big Wheel And Others opens with the country rocker “Big Wheel,” whose dynamism is surpassed only by “Satan Is My Toy” — where loud guitar riffs and shimmering drums meet a jazzy saxophone playing that can also be found in songs like the spooky, rattling “Joe Murder.” McCombs clearly has an affinity for jazz, which can be heard very well in the grooving instrumental piece “It Means A Lot To Know You Care.” He shows a penchant for avant-garde with the epic “The Burning Of The Temple, 2012,” a song pervaded by darkness, and on the nine-minute “Everything Has To Be Just So.”

Lyrically, the musician always deals with the depths and vulnerabilities of people, sometimes in a humorous ways, sometimes with a painful directness. His focus on lonely wanderers is not surprising, considering the quirkiness of these songs. However, the compact band playing with McCombs is one of the reasons why the album as a whole works out so well.

Big Wheel And Others is filled with revitalizing songs, swampy drums and driven keyboards — giving the songs, whatever their eccentricities, the necessary sweaty energy.

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Mike Dostert

Mike Dostert

Luxembourg resident Mike Dostert has written about music for more than two decades, with work appearing in a local newspaper, via his own independent music magazine and at the web sites www.music-brain.com and lux-culture.jimdo.com. He has also worked for 20 years as a DJ and radio host. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mike Dostert
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