Cass McCombs

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Nationality: American


Biography

Having been asked to compose the biographical material for WIT’S END, the new album from Cass McCombs, it somewhat felt like a trap had been set and that I'd willingly walked into it by accepting the challenge. To be forthright, yours truly could be considered neither a casual nor objective observer, having familiarized myself with the subject at hand over the past decade in various capacities. In the process of preparing for this exercise, I was reminded of one our earliest encounters.

Having flown out to meet Cass in Los Angeles after he'd commenced making his Domino debut, Dropping The ... Read more

Having been asked to compose the biographical material for WIT’S END, the new album from Cass McCombs, it somewhat felt like a trap had been set and that I'd willingly walked into it by accepting the challenge. To be forthright, yours truly could be considered neither a casual nor objective observer, having familiarized myself with the subject at hand over the past decade in various capacities. In the process of preparing for this exercise, I was reminded of one our earliest encounters.

Having flown out to meet Cass in Los Angeles after he'd commenced making his Domino debut, Dropping The Writ, and hoping to hear some of the early recordings that had taken place already, he refused to play any of the progress as he considered them unfinished and therefore verboten. However, he was willing to share his completed lyrics, more than enough to fill five albums and many of them without any composed music. This puzzled me as I've often found that finished lyrics are usually one of the last pieces of the puzzle to be finished off with most of the songwriters I've had the pleasure to work with.

Anyhow, he was especially proud of one song in particular that he intended to record... beaming in fact, as he pulled it up on his computer. The minute I began to read, I knew exactly who the song was about, a mutual acquaintance. It was a sharp and compact lyric and its scrupulousness just added to acerbity. I turned to him and said something along the lines of... "Cass, this one... it's written for an audience of you and person about which this song is written. It's so specific, I fear it won't be relatable to nearly every other listener." And if my memory serves, I believe his response was "so what?"

McCombs is wordsmith of great economy and precision. When you see his compositions in printed form, they appear incredibly sparse, like they could hardly fill a verse, let alone a whole song, and often lacking the traditional structure and rhyme schemes we've come to associate with modern music, "indie" or otherwise. But, once paired with his melodies and arrangements, they are transformed into these subtle, but revealing songs filled with depth of emotion and meaning. It is that precision that would lead one to believe that all the autobiographical material a person would seek about McCombs is embedded in the songs (and you'd be right) but then he would insist after the fact that your deductions couldn't be more off the mark about what is truth and what is simply artistic expression.

So now I've written hundreds of words, given you no concrete biographical information AND neglected to mention anything about the new album beyond its title, but somehow I think Cass will appreciate that. There's really little to say other than you should give WIT’S END your full and undivided attention (I recommend late at night in solitude), as it is by far the most ambitious and realized artistic statement of his career. Period. If you will humor my enthusiasm for a moment, imagine a Hal Ashby or Terrence Malick film as scored by Mark Hollis... light in its darkness, claustrophobic in its panorama, distant in its intimacy, present in its timelessness.

I won't pretend that I'll ever fully understand Cass as there are times where the dichotomies are dizzying even to those who know him better than most. I've heard from him the most withering couplets about the things he adores and words of great affection for those he's thought much, much less of. I've seen live performances filled with tenderness and aching that has made me believe in the absolute certainty that it will be just a matter of time before the rest of the world catches on and then the next time a performance so raw and confrontational that it could easily be mistaken as an act of professional self-immolation.

I've never heard mention of that song that I so quickly dismissed at the time as too unequivocal and now a perverse curiosity as to what might have been is all that remains as he's never mentioned it or performed a variation of it since. Perhaps I felt my own unease at the notion of being on the receiving end of a Cass McCombs lyric. Perhaps, I already have been and just don't know it. He is that clever.

Cass McCombs is a singer-songwriter, storyteller and Scorpio born in Northern California in 1977 and currently resides in Los Angeles.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Having been asked to compose the biographical material for WIT’S END, the new album from Cass McCombs, it somewhat felt like a trap had been set and that I'd willingly walked into it by accepting the challenge. To be forthright, yours truly could be considered neither a casual nor objective observer, having familiarized myself with the subject at hand over the past decade in various capacities. In the process of preparing for this exercise, I was reminded of one our earliest encounters.

Having flown out to meet Cass in Los Angeles after he'd commenced making his Domino debut, Dropping The Writ, and hoping to hear some of the early recordings that had taken place already, he refused to play any of the progress as he considered them unfinished and therefore verboten. However, he was willing to share his completed lyrics, more than enough to fill five albums and many of them without any composed music. This puzzled me as I've often found that finished lyrics are usually one of the last pieces of the puzzle to be finished off with most of the songwriters I've had the pleasure to work with.

Anyhow, he was especially proud of one song in particular that he intended to record... beaming in fact, as he pulled it up on his computer. The minute I began to read, I knew exactly who the song was about, a mutual acquaintance. It was a sharp and compact lyric and its scrupulousness just added to acerbity. I turned to him and said something along the lines of... "Cass, this one... it's written for an audience of you and person about which this song is written. It's so specific, I fear it won't be relatable to nearly every other listener." And if my memory serves, I believe his response was "so what?"

McCombs is wordsmith of great economy and precision. When you see his compositions in printed form, they appear incredibly sparse, like they could hardly fill a verse, let alone a whole song, and often lacking the traditional structure and rhyme schemes we've come to associate with modern music, "indie" or otherwise. But, once paired with his melodies and arrangements, they are transformed into these subtle, but revealing songs filled with depth of emotion and meaning. It is that precision that would lead one to believe that all the autobiographical material a person would seek about McCombs is embedded in the songs (and you'd be right) but then he would insist after the fact that your deductions couldn't be more off the mark about what is truth and what is simply artistic expression.

So now I've written hundreds of words, given you no concrete biographical information AND neglected to mention anything about the new album beyond its title, but somehow I think Cass will appreciate that. There's really little to say other than you should give WIT’S END your full and undivided attention (I recommend late at night in solitude), as it is by far the most ambitious and realized artistic statement of his career. Period. If you will humor my enthusiasm for a moment, imagine a Hal Ashby or Terrence Malick film as scored by Mark Hollis... light in its darkness, claustrophobic in its panorama, distant in its intimacy, present in its timelessness.

I won't pretend that I'll ever fully understand Cass as there are times where the dichotomies are dizzying even to those who know him better than most. I've heard from him the most withering couplets about the things he adores and words of great affection for those he's thought much, much less of. I've seen live performances filled with tenderness and aching that has made me believe in the absolute certainty that it will be just a matter of time before the rest of the world catches on and then the next time a performance so raw and confrontational that it could easily be mistaken as an act of professional self-immolation.

I've never heard mention of that song that I so quickly dismissed at the time as too unequivocal and now a perverse curiosity as to what might have been is all that remains as he's never mentioned it or performed a variation of it since. Perhaps I felt my own unease at the notion of being on the receiving end of a Cass McCombs lyric. Perhaps, I already have been and just don't know it. He is that clever.

Cass McCombs is a singer-songwriter, storyteller and Scorpio born in Northern California in 1977 and currently resides in Los Angeles.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Having been asked to compose the biographical material for WIT’S END, the new album from Cass McCombs, it somewhat felt like a trap had been set and that I'd willingly walked into it by accepting the challenge. To be forthright, yours truly could be considered neither a casual nor objective observer, having familiarized myself with the subject at hand over the past decade in various capacities. In the process of preparing for this exercise, I was reminded of one our earliest encounters.

Having flown out to meet Cass in Los Angeles after he'd commenced making his Domino debut, Dropping The Writ, and hoping to hear some of the early recordings that had taken place already, he refused to play any of the progress as he considered them unfinished and therefore verboten. However, he was willing to share his completed lyrics, more than enough to fill five albums and many of them without any composed music. This puzzled me as I've often found that finished lyrics are usually one of the last pieces of the puzzle to be finished off with most of the songwriters I've had the pleasure to work with.

Anyhow, he was especially proud of one song in particular that he intended to record... beaming in fact, as he pulled it up on his computer. The minute I began to read, I knew exactly who the song was about, a mutual acquaintance. It was a sharp and compact lyric and its scrupulousness just added to acerbity. I turned to him and said something along the lines of... "Cass, this one... it's written for an audience of you and person about which this song is written. It's so specific, I fear it won't be relatable to nearly every other listener." And if my memory serves, I believe his response was "so what?"

McCombs is wordsmith of great economy and precision. When you see his compositions in printed form, they appear incredibly sparse, like they could hardly fill a verse, let alone a whole song, and often lacking the traditional structure and rhyme schemes we've come to associate with modern music, "indie" or otherwise. But, once paired with his melodies and arrangements, they are transformed into these subtle, but revealing songs filled with depth of emotion and meaning. It is that precision that would lead one to believe that all the autobiographical material a person would seek about McCombs is embedded in the songs (and you'd be right) but then he would insist after the fact that your deductions couldn't be more off the mark about what is truth and what is simply artistic expression.

So now I've written hundreds of words, given you no concrete biographical information AND neglected to mention anything about the new album beyond its title, but somehow I think Cass will appreciate that. There's really little to say other than you should give WIT’S END your full and undivided attention (I recommend late at night in solitude), as it is by far the most ambitious and realized artistic statement of his career. Period. If you will humor my enthusiasm for a moment, imagine a Hal Ashby or Terrence Malick film as scored by Mark Hollis... light in its darkness, claustrophobic in its panorama, distant in its intimacy, present in its timelessness.

I won't pretend that I'll ever fully understand Cass as there are times where the dichotomies are dizzying even to those who know him better than most. I've heard from him the most withering couplets about the things he adores and words of great affection for those he's thought much, much less of. I've seen live performances filled with tenderness and aching that has made me believe in the absolute certainty that it will be just a matter of time before the rest of the world catches on and then the next time a performance so raw and confrontational that it could easily be mistaken as an act of professional self-immolation.

I've never heard mention of that song that I so quickly dismissed at the time as too unequivocal and now a perverse curiosity as to what might have been is all that remains as he's never mentioned it or performed a variation of it since. Perhaps I felt my own unease at the notion of being on the receiving end of a Cass McCombs lyric. Perhaps, I already have been and just don't know it. He is that clever.

Cass McCombs is a singer-songwriter, storyteller and Scorpio born in Northern California in 1977 and currently resides in Los Angeles.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

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