Cass McCombs (Photo by Ebru Yildiz)
Cass McCombs is “one of America’s most reliably excellent singer-songwriters” (The Guardian), and with his 10th album Heartmind, out now on ANTI-, he’s “still functioning at [his] highest level at an age when many of their peers have stagnated” (Wall Street Journal, The Best Music of 2022).
In support of the album, Cass performs at 9:30 Club on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
Last year, Cass presented a new single/video, “Karaoke,” from Heartmind. The Ariel Rechtshaid co-produced “Karaoke” is a burst of power-pop perfection. Through springy staccato guitar, vaporized electric keys, and an infectious melody, Cass triangulates a perch of his very own out among The Pastels, The Vaselines, and The Cure, and vibrates from there.
Questioning what is fake and what is real, the song’s lyrics are both playful and painful: “Is it karaoke, all your words? // Is it karaoke, your antics? // Or is it all some kind of pantomime? // Playing the role of romantic? // Don’t let’s answer this question now // I Guess It Doesn’t Matter Anymore // Guess I’m a load of karaoke too // Unable to say more.”
The chorus, “You sang a melody, unchained // But will your love godspeed to me?,” is a direct reference to the song “Unchained Melody.” The accompanying video, directed by Scott Kiernan, is a play on the song title, as Cass navigates through a surreal world of analog video effects, each image questioning the artificiality of itself.
Watch the official music video for “Karaoke” by Cass McCombs on YouTube:
Heartmind feels like a journey among assorted tuneful feelings, somehow shaped to meet whatever it is a particular listener needs, to mirror whatever they bring to these uniformly incandescent and tragicomic tracks. Cass has set the stage, and allows the listener to pick the heroes and villains, the winners and losers, the jokes and the drags. He doesn’t want to present all the questions, let alone the answers. Where some may hear dark humor, others might hear relentless pain; where some may hear winning cynicism, others might hear harrowing nihilism.
As Cass frankly said, “I made this album as a way to handle the loss of some close friends. Their memories guided me throughout and hopefully they live through the music. Strange to realize, it wasn’t them who are lost, it was me.”
This will be the first time Cass is playing songs off Heartmind, and will feature a full band.
Tuesday, Jan. 24
Doors @ 7pm