Top 50 Albums of 2016

top50You’ve all been waiting, anxiously. Waiting for our arbitrary list of the opinion of four folks who run this site, and what we think were the best albums of 2016. It’s really really important. We’re going to make our site great again with this list. We’re going to win, bigly. But really, it’s just a list of the stuff we loved the most that we covered throughout this year on our site. The comment section is open, so feel free to tell us where we’ve gone wrong or what we’ve got right or anything else fitting. Read more

New Cass McCombs Track

cassWhen listening to this new Cass McCombs track, the first thing that struck me was how fragile his voice sounded; it’s edging on cracking, yet he holds it together. The rest of the track is filled with tiny flourishes of accompaniment for accent purposes…be it slide guitar or electronic blips. He does take a spoken-word approach for a moment saying “if it’s so easy, you try” in the song’s latter half, adding the number just a bit of needed respite so as not to wear on listeners. Mangy Love, his new effort, comes out this month via Anti, and it should be on your radar already.

Festival Recap: Day 1 of Primavera Sound 2016

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Photo by Eric Pamies

While each day’s slated program of Primavera Sound 2016 was filled with great bands from all over the world, Thursday, the first day of the festival at Parc del Forum, was for me, the busiest of them all. Thursday had me bouncing around from stage to stage, and hustling to make the most of my time while keeping the headliners in the back of my mind. Read on after the jump to hear what were the best parts of day one and see some pictures.

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ATH Abroad: Primavera Sound 2016 Preview

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 10.10.50 AMIn one week I’ll be touching down in Barcelona, Spain with around 200,000 of my closest friends in order to attend Primavera Sound. While you may not be in attendance, as this festival is quite a long jaunt away from the ATX, there are quite a few bands on the excellent and exciting lineup that will be making their way to our own city limits in the near future. As this is essentially the first super fest of the summer season, I’m on my way to Parc del Forum to scoop out who you must see when they come to a city near you, and who you should expect to step into the limelight of the indie world in the near future. Sure, I’m super stoked to see Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Beach House, Wild Nothing, Sigur Ros, Destroyer, Beirut, Dinosaur JR. … the list goes on. But what about those acts that get overlooked by these huge names? Read on for my top 5 international semi-under the radar acts that I’m most excited to see.

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There’s a New Cass McCombs Album Coming

CassMcCombs_MangyLove_CoverArt-copyThere are a ton of acts that get loads of press, and I’m not always on board with the buzz (I know, I liked the first album better…blah blah blah). But, I’ve really enjoyed the work of Cass McCombs, so with the announcement of a new album, I’m actually really excited. I enjoy the way the track opens with McCombs calming croon coming in over the strings and ringing guitar chord that’s high in the mix. There’s even a little bit of a touch that seemingly makes it perfect pop for lounge acts…and I mean that in the best way possible. His new effort will be titled Mangy Love, coming out later via Anti Records.


Show Preview: Cass McCombs @ Belmont (11.22)

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Date Friday, November 22
Location The Belmont
Doors 8:00 PM
Tickets $15 from Ticketfly

The season of rock n’ roll traveling shows is slowly drawing to a close, and there’s only a handful of really remarkable acts remaining on our Austin schedule (there’ll still be tons of great local shows as always).  One of the best acts to see, Cass McCombs, will be coming into town on Friday evening to play the Belmont. He’s touring behind his recent release Big Wheel and Others, which has some really incredible songs on it.  Personally, I find Cass to be really compelling live; I think the performances he gives make it well worth your time to make it out of the house on Friday.  Plus, you’ll get a chance to see Pink Nasty, one of our own local legends kick things off for the night.  Either way, it sounds like you win if you make it out!


Download: Cass McCombs – County Line [MP3]

Show Pics: Cass McCombs @ Stubb’s (1/14)

Cass McCombs came to town to play an intimate set at Stubb’s indoor stage. The crowd on hand was tightly packed into the cave beneath the restaurant, enthusiastic and respectful. The quiet moments were quiet allowing Cass and the band to fill the space.

Helping to create that atmosphere was the spellbinding opening set from Frank FairField.. Just a stool, guitar, violin or banjo, toe-taps to set the rhythm and single mic in front to pick it all up. Pin drop quiet allowing the traditional blues/folk sound to resonate. The crowd would burst with approval between songs.

Wish I could have spent more time, but split show duties did not allow. Head after the jump for pics…

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Show Preview: Cass McCombs @ Stubbs (1/14)

Date Saturday, January 14th
Location Stubbs
Doors 900p
Tickets $12 from Frontgate

As the show season begins to pick up, and the weather remains a bit on the cold side, you’re going to find the perfect show for you Saturday night over at Stubbs.  Cass McCombs, six records into his career, is the sort of singer you want to hear inside Stubbs, where the heat of the crowd accompanies the solemn vocal display and quiet musical accompaniment.  As his career has gone on, he’s only gotten more respect from the press, and tracks like the deeply moving “County Line” are a perfect reason for this.  Opening the show will be Frank FairField.


Download: Cass McCombs – County Line [MP3]

Cass McCombs – Wit’s End

Rating: ★★★★ ·

On his website, McCombs claims that this fifth record is a venture “going deeper into the mania of a man buried alive inside his self-made catacombs,” indicating that this album is a continuation and further explanation of said metaphor. However, even without this tidbit of knowledge from the man, Wit’s End is inclination enough to denote this surge to a more intricate and deeper reaching sound for Cass McCombs.

Wit’s End begins on a nonchalant note: the slow-moving drum beats and Cass’s gentle voice just sort of slips you into to his realm of ambiguity. No moment of anticipation, or calm before the storm, rather, in an instant you’re with him on an adventure to discover, or explore the human psyche. Such is the case with “County Line,” and continues onto “The Lonely Doll,” in which an eerie lullaby tinkling meanders through the song meanwhile you are narrated through a spindly tale of the title character. At this point, McCombs comes off as a Bob Dylan esque figure in getting lost in his own mind. “Buried Alive” describes this feeling as being “in a sea of black” and you can’t help but empathize with this man; we’ve all such a feeling of lost-ness somewhere along the way and Wit’s End makes this feel natural, and even right.

As far as the actual music goes, there is not too much to rave on about. It fits with the overwhelmingly powerful lyrics, and I think that is all that really matters for this album. Yes, there is the softly eroding piano on numbers like “Saturday Song,” that slowly beats you down with every press of the keys. And yes, there is the tender horn-work on the finisher “A Knock Upon the Door,” but there isn’t a reliance on that musical crescendo of majestic beauty. Cass McCombs is unapologetically cryptic and shady because that’s just the way he is.

At first listen, it seems that Mr. McCombs may have gone too far around the bend. The soft plucking of the guitar accompanied by his whisper of a voice sounds akin to that of a jaded old man with several regrets and misfortunes. However, the more listens acquired, the easier it is to ascertain the meaning behind this mans’ madness. Or if no meaning arises to your ears, it is at least devastatingly interesting to listen to the plight of another. It will grow on you.