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Big Wheel and Others

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Editors’ Notes

Starting with a recorded snippet from Ralph Arlyck’s 1970 documentary Sean, where a four-and-a-half-year-old child casually discusses drug use in a hippie household in San Francisco, Cass McCombs’ double album Big Wheel and Others starts its long journey through a California state of mind, which includes songs that lurch with a Grateful Dead–like flow and others that capture a laid-back country-rock sound. “Brighter!” shows up twice on the album: McCombs handles a sweet falsetto alongside pedal steel guitar for version one, and there's a guest vocal from actress-singer Karen Black (who died before this album's release) on version two. “Joe Murder” has a Neil Young, On the Beach–style churn. For nine minutes, “Everything Has to Be Just-So” plays like a bizarro version of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.” The silly “Satan Is My Toy” blasts off with an early-'70s hard boogie, while a cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Honesty Is No Excuse” feels like another lost country-rock number.

Customer Reviews


McCombs' releases are consistent with brilliant writing and melody - this one covers every base. Jams, instrumentals and beautiful poetry woven together in this 22 song opus.

Never marry bury.

Upon first completion: what a new energy feels like. Love the guest percussion. Love Ms. Karen's appearance. And I love love the songwriting, jealously so. A breath of roses. Thank you!

Wish this album was Brighter!

Listened to the samples after seeing a recommendation in Entertainment Weekly. Nope, not for me. The one track I'll listen to further is "Brighter!" Love that steel guitar!


Born: 1977 in Concord, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

After bouncing around the country writing songs and honing his craft, singer/songwriter Cass McCombs' insightful and emotionally rich work caught the ear of Baltimore label Monitor Records, who released his first EP, 2002's Not the Way. McCombs' first album, A, was released early the following year and was distributed in Europe and the U.K. by 4AD. Early in 2005, the "Sacred Heart" single revealed the more polished and poppy direction of his second album, PREfection, which arrived that spring. Recorded...
Full Bio
Big Wheel and Others, Cass McCombs
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Customer Ratings