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Cass McCombs 

When: Wed., Jan. 18, 9 p.m. 2012
We’re of two minds when it comes to Cass McCombs, the enigmatic California-born singer-songwriter behind insular indie folk records like last year’s Humor Risk and Wit’s End. On one hand, his music is arresting in its simplicity. “Country Line,” a song Pitchfork named the No. 8 single of 2011, is a compelling slow-burner of an unrequited love song. Even at his wittiest, McCombs’ songs sound like they could have been composed in a broom closet at the Great Northern Hotel. These records have a miasmatic undercurrent that’s equal parts alluring and isolating. On the other hand, the lengths McCombs goes to be mysterious are exhausting, whether he’s volunteering his epitaph (“Home at Last”) or insisting that he only be interviewed by snail mail. McCombs’ affectations can come off as being too pretentious for words, in ways that his songs don’t.
— Lance Conzett


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