Published in LEO Weekly on Dec. 3, 2013.
“There are only two genres,” says Cass McCombs, “country and western.”
The singer-songwriter is completely sincere when he says this, but his catalog of seven albums speaks otherwise. Big Wheel & Others is his latest and longest to date. He’s been blowin’ in the wind for years, living a gypsy lifestyle within the perimeters of his native California. Along the way, he’s collaborated and hung out with weirdos like Animal Collective and Gang Gang Dance. His last joint effort captured on Big Wheel stars the vocals of ’70s actress Karen Black, who died last August. She sings on the song “Brighter!,” which McCombs had written for her. And despite battling cancer during that time, she killed it.
Two versions of that song grace both sides of Big Wheel. He says the songs change with each performance, and he is generally unattached to his studio takes. “The records are a pretty dull experience,” he says. (This writer kindly disagrees.)
Sure, some on Big Wheel are slow-burners — see “The Burning of the Temple, 2012,” a somber jazz slow dance with a haunting clip of Black asking, “Hey now, brother, where you headed so slow?” Others are surprisingly gritty, like the funked-out and bluesy “Satan Is My Toy,” or the psych-Western roller “Joe Murder,” where a disturbed sax solo materializes mid-song. McCombs experiments with genre here more than on any of his previous records, its 22-song length allowing plenty of room for directing his creative yawns to off-beaten paths.
Brooklyn’s eight-piece collective shook the opening night of Worldfest 2013.
South American roots in a bluegrass state
Published in LEO Weekly on May 29, 2013.
Mountains are the common link between the six members of Appalatin, who each took a different path to arrive in Louisville before the turn of the aughts.
Yani Vozos, Kentucky-born, picked up Spanish while living in Honduras on a Peace Corps trip. His lingual education wasn’t far off from Marlon Obando’s upbringing in Nicaragua. On this common ground, they wrote songs containing both Spanish and English lyrics.
Fernando Moya was already engrossed in performance with the traditional Andean group Andes Manta before extending his skills on wooden flutes and charango in Appalatin.
Steve Sizemore perhaps described it best when he said, “It just entered my soul,” about his experience living in South America from ’99-01. Now he bangs out on the bongos, conga and cajón drums, which are a heavy hip-shaking enticer of their African percussion selection.
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Curated by Nathan Rich, fookcast returns with an exclusive series of mixtapes and podcasts for Huevos. Themed episodes will feature audio journeys in a myriad of styles, interviews with independent artists who are fully embracing the death of yesterday’s music industry, and additional commentary from “fook” regarding timeless albums essential to any collection.
This installment is your introduction to the many incarnations of experimental noise rock, including the Vietnam stupor of U.S. Maple, Jesu’s astral sludge, masculine drug abuse courtesy of Holy Smokes, and other surprises along the way. As noted in the opening segment, this is one to penetrate your skull; don’t skimp on the volume.
English for Durcheinander
U.S. Maple: Bumps and Guys
Holy Smokes: Do the Death
Bastro: I Come from a Long Line of Shipbuilders
Girth: Fucking the Temple of Fame
Devin Townsend: Devlab
Jesu: Friends Are Evil
The Smashing Pumpkins: STP
Sithu Aye: Baryogenesis
Cloudkicker: Our Crazy Night
The Nakatomi Towers: Waking the Dead
Gastr del Sol: The Japanese Room at La Pagode
© 2012 HUEVOS