Sunday A.M. Radio: Cass McCombs

This week we’re listening to songs from one of my favorite artists, Cass McCombs. (Yes, we’ve been taking a short break from ambient music lately, but if you really need that chill you can revisit some previous posts right here, or here, or – wait – what about here.)

Cass McCombs – the enigmatic singer-songwriter, artist and, of course, designer of the Die Sect font, which you can download here – writes some of my favorite songs, which draw from soul, folk, indie rock and psychedelic influences. One thing I love about McCombs’ songs is his seemingly stream-of-consciousness, offbeat lyrics that mix dark humor with hippie Zen koans and often question what it is to be human. For example, he wrote possibly my favorite lyric ever on his song “Morning Star,” where he ponders the age-old question “What’s it like to shit in space?” Who hasn’t thought about that?

At first glance, this lyric just seems like a throwaway joke, but it’s actually a pretty good representation of McCombs’ philosophical approach to lyric writing. Space travel represents mankind’s greatest achievement. To travel outside the atmosphere of our planet requires so many unique facets of the human mind: the engineering knowledge to design a working spacecraft, the heroism to actually fly the damn thing into the unknown and the poetry to dream of setting foot on the moon or another planet in the first place. And yet, man is still man. We’re still animals. We need to eat and shit. No matter how much we aspire to transcend, we’ll never escape our basic human needs. McCombs can write songs about that sort of thing. And he casually tosses out pearls of wisdom that might seem like dumb jokes on the first listen.

McCombs’ latest album, “Mangy Love,” was released on Anti Records on Aug. 26. Look out for him when he hits the East Coast this fall. McCombs performs at Underground Arts in Philadelphia on Oct. 14 (with Delicate Steve) and at Ottobar in Baltimore on Oct. 15.

Listen to the funky reggae-tinged “Run Sister Run” from “Mangy Love.”  Also, check out “Morning Star” and one of my personal favorites, “County Line.” Order “Mangy Love” here.

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Posted in Articles, Sunday A.M. Radio

Mike Andrelczyk is a features editor for Fly Magazine. He is a graduate of Penn State University and currently lives with his wife Stacey in Strasburg. Interests include tennis, playing bad guitar, poetry (poems have appeared in Modern Haiku, The Inquisitive Eater and other journals) and oneirology – the study of dreams – mostly in the form of afternoon naps. His name appears in the title screen of Major League 2.

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