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Dropping the Writ

Cass McCombs

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Album Review

After two impressive indie pop-folk-rock albums for Baltimore-based indie Monitor, Cass McCombs' third album, his first for Domino, starts off on the wrong foot with the overly dramatic, theatrical, and angular "Lionkiller." The lyrics are jarring, McCombs' vocals are over-the-top, and the music is repetitious. Once it's out of the way, though, Dropping the Writ is a very good, highly enjoyable record. For all McCombs' arty inclinations, at heart he is a pop songwriter capable of crafting melodies and hooks that draw you in and at times knock you out. All the proof you need is in "That's That," a shuddering midtempo track that, with a slicker arrangement (and different lyrics that don't mention cleaning toilets in a Baltimore nightclub), wouldn't sound out of place on a Lindsey Buckingham solo album. Or in "Crick in My Neck," with its swooping doo wop background harmonies, chiming guitars, and galloping hooks. Or "Windfall," with its pristine acoustic guitar lines, McCombs' soaring vocals, and lovely yearning melody. Still, those artistic tendencies do keep popping up, mostly in the lyrics but occasionally in his habit of stretching his voice past its range and yelping to make a point (check "Lionkiller" or "Wheel of Fortune"). It can prove off-putting when it occurs, but mostly McCombs maintains a steady balance between weirdness and accessibility on the album. Anyone who finds comfort in the soft melancholy of Iron & Wine, the intimate vulnerability of the first Rogue Wave album, or again, the willful iconoclasm of Lindsey Buckingham's best work will find much to admire here. If you can connect with the left-field nature of the lyrics and the occasional flights of artistic fancy, you might even find love with Dropping the Writ.

Customer Reviews

Best Yet

A bit more mellow and melancholy than 2005's PREfection, and probably Cass' best work yet. One of the years best.

This is pure genius...!

It has been a long time since I have heard an artist that has affected me so greatly as Cass McCombs. There is an aching in his voice that has the ability to transcend the current state of emotion. The first time I heard "Windfall" I just closed my eyes and felt gravity melt away. His music paints images, there is a heart here that is seldom worn so close to the sleeves as this. I do not at all understand the "official" review that was posted here (not even a name of who wrote it?)...I am wondering if they even heard the same album? Critics that pick apart every piece of an album and complain are only acting out in anger because of their lack of creativity and vision. Two things Cass could sell in a bottle if he wanted. I only have one major problem with Cass...and it's that I have gone this long without ever hearing his music. Thank you Cass...

Awesome

Great album. Upbeat, great production, great song writing.

Biography

Born: 1977 in Concord, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Baltimore-based singer/songwriter Cass McCombs' moody but often surprisingly humorous music was aided and abetted by bassist Trevor Shimizu, keyboardist Natalie Conn, and drummer Dutch E. Germ (who has also played with Neil Michael Hagerty). Tours with the Oxes and Palace paved the way for McCombs' debut EP, 2002's Not the Way, which arrived on Monitor Records; A was released early the following year and was distributed in Europe and the U.K. by 4AD. McCombs and his band spent much of 2003 and 2004...
Full Bio
Dropping the Writ, Cass McCombs
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