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Music Review

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Artist: Cass McCombs
Domino Records
RRP: £11.99
Available 01 June 2009

Cass McCombs was born in Concord, California and at the age of 23 he set off to the East Coast and began networking and performing open mics in New York City and Baltimore. He spent most of his adult life travelling around the United States, moving from one city to the next, settling at one point in Baltimore, where he recorded his debut E.P. 'Not the Way', which was released in 2003 by a local indie label.

A, was released early the following year and was distributed in Europe and the U.K. by 4AD. McCombs and his band spent much of 2003 and 2004 touring, playing the All Tomorrow's Parties festival and supporting labelmates Blonde Redhead.

Early in 2005, the ‘Sacred Heart’ single revealed the more polished, although still dark, direction of his second album, PREfection, which arrived that spring. In 2005, he moved to Los Angeles to work on his third full-length, Dropping the Writ, released on Domino Records. McCombs is back with his new album Catacombs, which is released on Domino Records.

I have to say I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about reviewing this album, it kinda looked a bit too country and western but as with all professionals I got on with the job in hand and took to it with an optimistic view.

I would love to say what a great sounding album it was, how cool and sophisticated it sounded and how it lifted me and gave me a good feeling, unfortunately this was not the case. This album was about as exciting and fun as, I would imagine, eating a box of chalk.

McCombs's vocals are dreary and whiney for most part of this album and every song is as repetitive as the next. There was a little bit of hope for ‘Lionkiller Got Married’ as it started with a really strong beat and hand clapping in between. But as the song went on and on, I realised that the only variation and interesting part was to be that of the key changes.

I can’t pick out individual songs to talk about as to be honest they all sounded pretty much the same. There is no variation to the tracks and with this there is no depth, feeling or emotion on the whole of the album.

By the end of this album, I felt thoroughly drained and needed to put on some lively cheesy '70s disco music to bring me back to life.

If you are looking for an easy, uplifting listen then I would give this a wide berth. However if you fancy wallowing in self-pity and depressing yourself then go on be my guest... but just remember I did warn you.


Helena Rea

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