Cass McCombs double album brings a lot to the table, including Mike Gordon

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When you see over twenty tracks listed, you think either someone has a lot to say, or they need an editor. Cass McCombs is the former, his sound is so pleasing and easy going he could have recorded a box set and it would have all been listenable. With Mike Gordon of Phish playing bass here and there, the thumping backbone of the rhythm section lets his vocals echo and wisp above it all while remaining strong and direct. “Big Wheel” trucks along strong, a beat similar to “When the Levee Breaks” chugging on as Cass purrs seductively with the slightest sneer. The slide is used to maximum beautiful effect in “Angel Blood”, amazing AM pop hooks that remind me of early Beatles through it and the remainder of the album. Some tracks are more segments of songs, as McCombs seems to be sharing any idea he had at the time, fully formed or not. “Brighter!” appears twice, a melancholy song that sounds like it would have fit in on the Twin Peaks soundtrack, and then having cult actress Karen Black take over the vocals the second time around, giving the song and even eerier turn as her final performance before succumbing to cancer.

“There Can Be Only One” has a very Velvet Underground feel to it with the flat story telling vocal delivery, bouncy bass from Mike Gordon (Go Cactus!) and shimmying drums from Furthur’s Joe Russo sprinkling all over the album. “Name Written on Water” is as close to an homage to Bob Dylan as you can get, the repeating Watchtower sounding rhythm growing stronger and stronger as his snarky delivery questions life. The production on this album is great, warm with a vintage feel that just sounds so damn pleasant. This is one of the better and more prolific songwriters out there right now, and with his galley of talented collaborative friends, there’s no telling the body of work he will create in his lifetime.

“There Can Be Only One” with Mike Gordon:

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Gauntlet Hair “Stills” New Album Review

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Former Denver residents Gauntlet Hair have a new album coming out, and even though they live in Chicago now, people are still crazy about their brand of dark noise pop here. The new album starts with an easily accessible bang with “Human Nature”, a solid dance song with steady industrial beats. The album continues in the same vein with haunting overlapping vocals and discordant tones and notes, giving some songs like “Simple” a great tension and release once you get to the bridge. This album has a heavier influence and sound, at times reminding me of Joy Division and Jesus and Mary Chain, which may be a little off-putting at first to casual listeners of their previous, more pop/dance driven album, but it also sounds more mature and I enjoy seeing growth and progression in a band. Though it is harder to listen too, this often proves more rewarding in the end. With lyrics about falling out of love and the death of emotion towards each other, this music is not meant to be so easy.

Watch the video for “Human Nature”: Gauntlet Hair video

Don’t let the band name deter you, these guys are not 80’s hair metal like I thought the first time I saw their name. They have a big tour schedule, check them out:

07/27/13 Cleveland, OH – Happy Dog
07/28/13 Hamilton, ON – The Casbah Lounge BUY TICKETS
07/30/13 Washington, DC – Black Cat w/ Jackson Scott BUY TICKETS
07/31/13 Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s w/ Jackson Scott BUY TICKETS
08/01/13 New York, NY – Mercury Lounge w/ Dinowalrus BUY TICKETS
08/02/13 Brooklyn, NY – Glasslands w/ Jackson Scott & EULA BUY TICKETS
08/03/13 Boston, MA – Church of Boston w/ Jackson Scott BUY TICKETS
08/05/13 Toronto, ON – Drake Hotel BUY TICKETS
08/09/13 Chicago , IL – Empty Bottle BUY TICKETS
09/29/13 Atlanta, GA – Terminal West w/ Surfer Blood BUY TICKETS
09/30/13 Charlotte, NC – Visulite Theater w/ Surfer Blood
10/01/13 Carrboro, NC – Cats Cradle w/ Surfer Blood
10/03/13 Washington, DC – Rock & Roll Hotel w/ Surfer Blood
10/04/13 Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts w/ Surfer Blood
10/05/13 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg w/ Surfer Blood
10/06/13 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom w/ Surfer Blood
10/07/13 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall w/ Surfer Blood
10/09/13 Toronto, CAN – Lee’s Place w/ Surfer Blood
10/10/13 Columbus, OH – The Basement w/ Surfer Blood
10/11/13 Chicago , IL – Bottom Lounge w/ Surfer Blood
10/12/13 Iowa City, IA – Gabes w/ Surfer Blood
10/13/13 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock Social Club w/ Surfer Blood
10/15/13 Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room w/ Surfer Blood
10/16/13 Denver , CO – Larimer Lounge w/ Surfer Blood
10/17/13 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge w/ Surfer Blood
10/18/13 Las Vegas, NV – Beauty Bar w/ Surfer Blood
10/19/13 San Diego, CA – The Irenic w/ Surfer Blood
10/21/13 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre w/ Surfer Blood
10/22/13 San Francisco, CA – The Independent w/ Surfer Blood
10/24/13 Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom w/ Surfer Blood
10/26/13 Dallas, TX – Trees w/ Surfer Blood
10/27/13 Austin, TX – Red 7 w/ Surfer Blood
10/28/13 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s w/ Surfer Blood
10/29/13 New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks w/ Surfer Blood
10/30/13 Mobile, AL – Alabama Music Box w/ Surfer Blood
10/31/13 Tallahassee, FL – Club Downunder w/ Surfer Blood

NEW RILO KILEY!! Unreleased Tracks on New Album

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My life is complete. Next month an album of unreleased tracks, B-Sides and rarities will be released by Rilo Kiley. Just got the advance copy and this Jenny Lewis obsessive is in LOVE. Every single song is just perfect, and fans will be ecstatic. No need to comment on any different kind of sound, this is the early Rilo Kiley you love. Can the Postal Service Red Rocks show come any sooner??

video for new single “Let Me Back In”

pre-order here

20130327-111005.jpg photo by George Bekich