There's a raft of these groovin', kinda lo-fi albums knocking about over the past couple of years, and they have a lot in common: great hooky songs, decent straight ahead playing, and they all just fall short of being indispensable. Cass McCombs' "Big Wheels & Others" fits the bill: it swings and sways and at its best - "There Can Be Only One" - it really sounds great. McCombs writes and plays pretty well (that's a compliment - not meant as faint praise), and the sound is warm and rich. This sounds like a great band all sitting around in a circle, playing off each other (leaning in, as Dylan once famously said). However, 22 tracks stretched out over 86 minutes (including the, uh, cute takes of Sean talking) is asking a lot of a listener.
So, like a lot of double albums (and the odd triple, you know who you are The Clash) this is pretty good, and worth buying, but it would have made a cracking single album. There are a fair amount of ordinary tracks here (though little filler) and a handful of stone cold classics, and some judicious editing and advice from the producer (Cass himself) would have only have improved things.
Why four stars? Because it sounds so good, and because the good songs are great, and because I've already knocked out a single cd version of this for my iTunes.
If you like Jonathan Wilson, Phosphorescent, Eels and Real Estate, then sign yourselves up for another jangly Telecaster ride.