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Album Review: Cass McCombs – A Folk Set Apart: Rarities, B-Sides & Space Junk, Etc.,

2 min read

Giving fans an extensive look at his diverse discography, Cass McCombs’ latest release A Folk Set Apart: Rarities, B-Sides & Space Junk, Etc., truly showcases his thematic and emotional diversity. McCombs has culled an impressive 19 tracks from his musical vault and is offering up many songs that have been almost impossible to find. Thus presenting an intimate glimpse into the reflective madhouse that is his catalogue of music.

Cass McCombs A Folk Set ApartBeginning the descent down the rabbit hole is 2003 sampler I Cannot Lie. Remastered for the album it breathes life to this gritty, riff rich track highlighting his roots in the punk rock scene. Keeping on with resolute tunes from McCombs A era, is A.Y.D. It was originally a B-side but now it’s become a powerhouse tune with a jittery beat and dynamic riffs that match the sharp vocals especially well, while the lyrics quip and shudder, “I cannot get away, I’m here at your disposal”.  A more recent delve into alt rock is 2011 gem Poet’s Day, taking a feisty, repetitive rhythm and pairing it with lines full of deep angst, stating, “your lust did not stop there, every dream was a nightmare” / “you’re prone to exaggerate”.

Drifting to a sprightlier period, the subtle psychedelic nature of Empty Promises offers up deep beat and electric riffs as McCombs croons, “like any force of nature you were dangerous”. While fresher 2014 tune Evangeline bursts with a similar atmosphere paired with a faster tempo matched to the dreamy repetition of title “Evangeline” through the track.

Towards the end of A Folk Set Apart is where the fresher, folk material comes into play with Three Men Sitting On A Hollow Log, Lost River/Old River and Catacombs Cow Cow Boogie all maintaining a distinct southern twang. But it’s track Texas that brings the Wild West to life, with the plethora of banjo plucks, flute riffs, guitar feedback and an echo distort on McComb’s vocals it is truly a unique and bizarre track from start to finish.

Listening to A Folk Set Apart: Rarities, B-Sides & Space Junk, Etc., is pretty similar to riding an intimidating rollercoaster, exhilarating with the potential of it being the ride of a lifetime. Boasting tracks that embrace more than a decades worth of musical transitions you’re sure to find something to enjoy, and it’s sure to spark a new appreciation for Cass McCombs.