Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
Cass McCombs just makes you want to get lost. He makes it seem like it could be the easiest thing that anyone could ever do with themselves. We shouldn't find it to be a chore. It could be - if we wanted it to be - second nature. We already have all of the essentials needed to get there, wherever that nowhere happens to be - the place that we won't know how to get back from for a long time afterward. It's some place that we might not ever want to leave, the way he describes it. The always cool breeze of McCombs' voice is souped up with the qualities of someone who's preoccupied with an ether land, where there's no time and there's no differentiation between light and dark only because there's no understanding of the contrast that might be there. There's nothing but the overcast to experience in these vampiric hours that are kept. It's a drizzle and it's a fogginess that seems to be spitting on us a little bit. It's nothing that we dislike. It's actually appealing. The only time it becomes a problem is when the microscopic rivulets collect and hang on the lashes and we have to shake them off. McCombs, busier in the last year than he's ever been - putting albums out at an astonishing pace - has always made it easy to enjoy his slumbering take on the bewildering deformities of the human experience. He never needs to get too specific or too technical in describing those things that get us blue or get us mixed all the fuck up. We already have a long history with these temperaments, with these trappings and trappers that get our legs in their jaws and their teeth. He writes about the ways that we all make the beds that we have to sleep in and how sad that can be sometimes. All of us have an inner sense of what we've doing, as misguided and ill-advised that it can be. We like to pretend that we're the non-amused victims, not the suckers or perpetrators, most of the time, if only that were the case. McCombs' songs are filled with those stubbornly insecure folks who seem to stumble their ways into the same awkward settings over and over again and still, there's some sort of stability in that. It's who they are and they've learned to deal with that. There's a tranquility in the way that McCombs continues to expand upon this wayward tumble. He sings, "Now, it looks like my chickens have come home to roost," something that he's known would happen forever. He's been sitting by the big bay window in the living room, watching the steps, the front door and ringer for as long as he can remember, always for these chickens. He gives us these feelings that the wait has been okay. There's a pond that he can look upon, with steam coming off the water and when things start getting interesting, or it looks like something's going to heat up, most of the time, it's just the spooking of a pheasant out of the underbrush. The bird freaks out, begins its quick run and startled cluck as it leaves the ground in a hurry. Some of its down feathers are dislodged in the scuttling and the escape. McCombs watches them as they drift back to the ground, land and then everything goes back to temporary quiet - the waiting solitude again.