Cass McCombs opened his set at a sold-out Empty Bottle Friday with the chugging new song Big Wheel and he ended with his somber 2011 classic County Line. The songs between, picked from his seven albums over a decade, highlighted McCombs consistently good songwriting and unique take on Americana.
Saying little more than thank you to the crowd for the applause, McCombs spent almost no time between songs, playing an efficient set that included some mini jams. If you’re a fan of his music, I highly recommend checking out his live show. He may not be much of a conversationalist on stage but he delivers a great performance.
Arbouretum opened the show with a fine set of heavy folk. The video below is taken from a California show performed by McCombs last month. The Empty Bottle gig featured the same glimmering backdrop.
Cass McCombs’ sprawling recent release Big Wheel and Others is the latest in a line of excellent and intriguing albums from the enigmatic singer-songwriter. Boasting 19 songs, Big Wheel also has the distinction of being by far the longest album McCombs released. On Friday, you can catch him at the Empty Bottle. Judging from his recent set lists, McCombs is going back years, drawing from all his albums and usually playing no more than three or four new songs in a night. This intimate setting should be a perfect venue.
London producer Jon Hopkins is getting a lot of attention for his latest album Immunity, and the notice is well deserved. Hopkins built his career working with others, notably as Brian Eno’s co-producer for Cold Play’s Viva La Vida. On Immunity, Hopkins actually makes a standout electronic album in a crowded field of decent artists.
Hopkins is the middle act of a lineup including headliner Clark and opener Nathan Fake, all playing Saturday night at Lincoln Hall.
If you’re a fan of Waxahatchee (like me), chances are you’ll like Swearin’, the band led by Allison Crutchfield. Allison is the twin sister of Katie Crutchfield, who performs as Waxahatchee. The musical styles of the two projects are not exactly the same (though they’re not radically different, either).
Where Waxahatchee may remind you of Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville, Swearin’ summons another ’90s icon, the Breeders. Neither of these Crutchfields are knockoffs, but the mid-90s reference points are obvious. Born in 1989, the Crutchfield girls began playing in bands together in their teens in Alabama.
Certainly, Allison Crutchfield and Swearin’ deserve to be more than a footnote to Waxahatchee’s great release this year, Cerulean Salt. Swearin’ made a fine album itself with the recently released Surfing Strange.
Swearin’ plays Township Thursday.
Brooklyn’s Barbez is an avant-garde outfit led by guitarist Dan Kaufman. On Barbez’s latest album, Bella Ciao, Kaufman draws from an ancient Roman Jewish musical style to pay tribute to the resistance movement during the Nazis’ occupation of the Italian capital.
Barbez plays Hideout Saturday night and that should be a very intriguing show.
Nightlands is the project of Philadelphia bedroom musician Dave Hartley, who makes some pretty compelling music on his album Oak Island. You can check him out Sunday night at Township. Hartley is also bassist for the great Philly band the War on Drugs.
If you’re going to the Men-Fuzz show at Logan Square Auditorium Friday, go early for openers Purling Hiss and CCR Headcleaner. San Francisco-based CCR brings the heavy, psychedelic and slightly scuzzy muck on the band’s debut Lace the Earth With Arms Wide Open. CCR, the first band, will definitely get the crowd warmed up. The show is presented by Empty Bottle.