Cass McCombs’ Beautiful Discontent

Turning folk-pop into a weird trip.

Cass McCombs
Tip of the Sphere
ANTI-

Once upon a time, Cass McCombs would have presented himself as a folkie, a brooding dude armed with a crisp acoustic guitar and moody, sometimes-inscrutable songs. He can’t be pigeonholed so easily today. The engrossing Tip of the Sphere, his ninth full-length work, colors McCombs’ evocative tunes with everything from tabla to mellotron to violin, turning what could have been straightforward folk-pop into a less-predictable experience prone to subtly weird turns. A master of gnawing discontent, McCombs sings with an uneasy edge that can obscure the shimmering beauty of his melodies. The breathtaking “Estrella” aches for an elusive lover, lamenting a “ribbon of distance” and confessing, “Your laughter still rattles me,” while “Tying Up Loose Ends” wistfully ponders “a box of old family photographs,” asking, “Is there anyone still left who can tell me/Who these people are?” as it casts a fog of melancholy. Cass McCombs never chooses the obvious gesture, which makes his music all the more durable and compelling.

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Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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