In a surprising and satisfying turn of events, country music legend Wynonna Judd signed to punk-Americana label Anti Records earlier this year. Today she releases her first song for the label. Judd wrote “The Child” with her Anti label-mate Cass McCombs, with whom she’s formed a new band called the Frothy Pit. The two of … More »
The world is a weird, big place… A weird, big place in which Cass McCombs will soon share a stage with Wynonna Judd.
The pair will perform as parts of The Frothy Pit, which is some new collaboration (I would say “band,” but the press release just says “collaboration,” folks) which they will unveil at Americanafest, one of many new tour dates McCombs has coming up.
McCombs has been busy recently. He released Tip of the Sphere earlier this year and has his first book of poetry, Toy Fabels coming out October 16 via Spurl Editions. He also features on recent Tinariwen single “Kel Tinawen.” (Judd’s most recent album was 2016’s Wynonna and the Big Noise.)
His upcoming dates will take him through both the US and Europe. Check out the full itinerary down below.
09.12.19 – Nashville, TN – Mercy Lounge @ Americanafest
10.09.19 – San Diego, CA – Music Box
10.10.19 – Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar
10.12.19 – Tucson, AZ – 191 Toole
10.13.19 – Santa Fe, NM – Meow Wolf
10.15.19 – Dallas, TX – Club Dada
10.16.19 – San Antonio, TX – Sam’s Burger Joint
10.17.19 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall: Upstairs
10.18.19 – Austin, TX – 3TEN ACL Live
10.19.19 – Austin, TX – 3TEN ACL Live
10.21.19 – St. Louis, MO – Off Broadway Nightclub
10.22.19 – Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room
10.24.19 – Denver, CO – Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox
10.25.19 – Manitou Springs, CO – Lulu’s Downstairs
11.02.19 – London, UK – MIRRORS
11.05.19 – Madrid, Spain – Teatro Lara
11.06.19 – Cadiz, Spain – Edificio Constitución 1812
11.07.19 – Porto, Portugal – CCOP
11.08.19 – Braga, Portugal – GNRation
11.09.19 – Lisbon, Portugal – ZDB Gallery
11.11.19 – Barcelona, Spain – La Nau
11.13.19 – Zurich, Switzerland – Rote Fabrik
11.14.19 – Cologne, Germany – Buhmann & SOHN
11.15.19 – Utrecht, Netherlands – Cloud9, Tivoli
11.17.19 – Brighton, UK – One Church
11.18.19 – Bristol, UK – St. Georges Church
11.19.19 – Dublin, Ireland – The Button Factory
11.20.19 – Leeds, UK – Belgrave Music Hall
11.21.19 – Manchester, UK – Dancehouse Theatre
11.23.19 – Glasgow, UK – Great Western Festival @ Mackintosh Church
Tip of The Sphere
How are you? I’ve been meaning to get in touch. I only know you from your songs, which I guess is less and more than anything else. I’ve been listening to Tip of The Sphere every day for a few weeks now, and, like the other records, its magic is revealed in increments. I’ve often thought of song as a sort of channeling, a ghostly union with eternal spirit, with disincarnate character-elementals. But when I listen to an album from another angle, an equal impression is revealed: an architecture that is, while spiritual, also a plain labor. Maybe that should have been obvious from the beginning; it’s been a while since I played music, and one can forget the physicality of the practice.
In the craft of the song is the revelation of the song’s eternity? These things, the ineffable temper of the song (of the poem or the film, &c) and the earthly made-ness of the art, are the same. But that’s like “of course.” Is this so of any labor? It’s a curse to say anything isn’t capable of being an altar. We aren’t just working for nothing. Well, OK, it usually feels that way. Thus, the pursuit of “truth” begins.
But maybe that’s all neither here nor there. It’s music — let it play. I was in Poictesme in the summer of 2016, when I was supposed to write a response to Mangy Love. I had thought of doing something kind of like what I’m doing now. I thought I’d say, “Dear Cass,” then go on to write about the album. That’s the flaw of introducing the epistle into “music criticism.” The audience, the readers of Tiny Mix Tapes I mean, probably want this review to give some sort of reasonable summation of the album’s merits, and all I feel able to do is ramble on like this into the air within which I imagine the creator of these songs. But I can think of no other way of interacting with a body of work so dear to me. Let’s try a compromise, all…
A while back, inspired by the poet Clark Coolidge’s “For Kurt Cobain,” I wrote a poem called “For Cass McCombs.” Maybe I wanted to open the psychic bridge a little. Maybe I was searching for my analogue to Coolidge’s Cobain.
There’s a line from the Coolidge poem, I used it as an epigraph: “How much further do we get with this naming?”… It felt linked inextricably to the kinds of questions your songs tend to ask, or generate.
“What do you call yourself, if anything? I do not care to call myself much of anything…”
Tip of The Sphere, and I might be wrong, seems to be an album of unity in isolation. Of the sadness of that predicament and of the power of that sadness. Of the nameless — though sometimes the nameless are named, aren’t they? Most of the album’s characters are somehow screwed into a lonely life. I see the chilly walker in “Absentee” or the drifter Hermes (“If I had your dollar…”) in “I Followed The River South to What” as instances of identifying that momentary “Tip” of the “Sphere” — like how, neo-proverbially, any one person is the center of the universe when observed, if the universe is infinite (though they say it isn’t these days).
Loneliness kills. It kills the sufferer, and as we have seen in this world lately and forever, it claims other adjacent victims. For a while, it can inspire deeply or balm anger, but loneliness always gets its due in the end. Like we’re all sleeping volcanoes and our eruptions, our isolated pressures, don’t have isolated effects. It’ll be helter skelter all over the world. Is there salvation in the old ways when the new ways are killing us? Is Romance the demiurge?
If I’ve heard a lonelier song than “Sidewalk Bop After Suicide,” I can’t bring it to mind. Everyone in Tip of The Sphere is on the edge of some kind of destitution, seeking a connection or to feel RIGHT. I want a day like today, but not today, you sing in “Prayer for Another Day,” and I think that’s right: not utopian, an appropriate hope, an apt spell. Although not overtly political (as in, dealing with the current political noösphere), this album feels somehow more appropriate to our connection-isolation than an album of straightforward protest could.
An album where cash is both golden ticket/activating talisman (“I Followed The River…”) and straight-up sacred trash (“American Canyon Sutra”) is an honest album, I think. And I appreciate honesty. Well — within reason. Mundus vult decipi, after all.
The elusive details in the songs here are what bring me back, haunted. I think, “Was that really there, or am I misremembering, hallucinating, the songs?” But it was there: that chiming coda in “Real Life,” the asynchronous layers of voice and electronics in “American Canyon Sutra,” the melody at the end of “Estrella” sung in Spanish, “Rounder” in its entirety, its cut-up neologisms. There are subtler practices going on here. It’s kind of you to bury and to decorate thus.
Anyway, again, thanks for the music. It’s great for thinking on. There’s more I’d like to say about the album, about everything, but this is a public forum and my time has run out. Let’s get a drink sometime.
The Pit of The Damned, Penn.
We can now safely call the elliptical enigma Cass McCombs one of the great American songwriters; he’s been cranking out fascinating and intensely unique jams for the better part of two decades. Next week, McCombs will follow up 2016’s Mangy Love with the new album Tip Of The Sphere, which works as one … More »
We are only a few weeks away from the release of Tip Of The Sphere, the new album from great American songwriter Cass McCombs. It’s McCombs’ first proper solo album in three years — a pretty long time for a usually-prolific artist — and it finds McCombs venturing out into different sounds and ideas. We’ve … More »
Cass McCombs teased a new album called Tip Of The Sphere back in October, matching dazed reflections on environmental decay with an uncharacteristic programmed beat. It piqued my interest quite a bit. Then McCombs released “Sleeping Volcanoes,” the album’s lead single. I was instantly bowled over and had to retract More »
Rumor spreadin’ ‘round…in that Texas town…
The rumor is true: Marfa Myths is back in 2019 with a line-up that makes other weekenders look like a turn spent fixing the lawnmower followed by a jaunt to Baja Fresh with your boss and his step-son. Established in 2014 by non-profit organization and cultural arts space Ballroom Marfa and Brooklyn-based indie label Mexican Summer, Marfa Myths is a multi-disciplinary festival, curated with care and now entering its sixth installment.
If you need a reason to visit this lovely far west Texas town (three hours south-east of El Paso), here’s SEVERAL: Marfa Myths 2019 will take place from April 25-28, 2019 and includes performances by Khruangbin, Deerhunter, Annette Peacock, Cass McCombs, Vivien Goldman, Tim Hecker & The Konoyo Ensemble, Träd, Gräs och Stenar, Photay, Jess Williamson, and more. Additional acts are expected to be announced in the new year.
One of Marfa Myths’ more inspired features is its musicians in residence program that pairs two amenable acts to play and record. 2019’s MiR will present none other than skilled psych-boffins Drugdealer and Tim Presley (White Fence). Along for the festivities are visual artist in residence Natalie Anne Howard, and respective painter and woodworker in residence (and fabulous musicians in their own right) Connan Mockasin and Cate Le Bon. A portion of the festival’s proceeds will be going to support the very worthwhile local nonprofit organization Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA).
Early bird tickets are sold out, but full-price single day tickets and festival passes are available here. A quickie trailer and the line-up so far are shown below. All the info you need for Marfa Myths 2019 can be found here.
Have mercy…a haw, haw, haw, haw…
Marfa Myths 2019 Lineup:
Tim Hecker & The Konoyo Ensemble
Nadah El Shazly
OG Ron C & The Chopstars
Träd, Gräs och Stenar
Kate Berlant & John Early
Superstar & Star
The Space Lady
Emily A. Sprague
Musicians in Residence: Drugdealer and Tim Presley
Visual Artist in Residence: Natalie Anne Howard
Painter in Residence: Connan Mockasin
Wood Worker in Residence: Cate Le Bon
Cass McCombs’ last solo album, Mangy Love, was released in 2016. Last week, he shared a new video titled “Tip Of The Sphere,” in which he reads spoken-word passages. Today, McCombs announces a new album to be out 2/8, plus a run of tour dates. The announcement comes with the album’s … More »
Songs For Swing Left is a new compilation to raise money and increase awareness of the Swing Left campaign to help flip the United States’ House Of Representative blue in the upcoming midterm elections. It’s a running collection of songs, and it features contributions from the likes of Kurt Vile, Tim Heidecker, Jim … More »