Cass McCombs’ wonderful new record, Big Wheel and Others, is a big record, in length (22 tracks), scope and humanity. Ostensibly a folk-rock record, it dabbles in country, blues, rock ‘n’ roll and just about every other genre that can be lumped into the general, overarching term “Americana.” Yet this isn’t a reverent record by any means. Much as his prior records did, such as 2011’s double whammy of Wit’s End and Humor Risk, songs veer into avant-garde atmospherics; lyrics defy their genre’s constraints, such as the country-rockin’ “Big Wheel,” which delves into the manhood country music often stands upon (“the taste of diesel and the sound of big rigs,” he sings, before later undercutting such manly imagery with lyrics like “a man with a man, how more manly can you get? I may be 5-foot-one, but you’re all wet”). Interspersing the tracks are interludes cut from the 1970 documentary short Sean, about a hippie kid who smokes weed, plus two versions of the same song, “Brighter!,” one sung with the late actress Karen Black, with whom McCombs also dueted on the Catacombs highlight “Dreams-Come-True-Girl.” I sat down to ask McCombs about the epic new album.
Amoeba Music is proud to present the show, which also features Leftover Cuties and Willie Watson of Americana string band Old Crow Medicine Show. This is a 21+ event. Tickets are available at Amoeba Hollywood! As is their latest album, A Collection (2000-2012), which gives an overview of the 21st century roots band’s existence. Their three studio albums, Blue Horse, Chinatown and Hello Love, are available as well.
The Be Good Tanyas, consisting of Frazey Ford (guitar, vocals), Samantha Parton (guitar, mandolin, banjo, vocals) and Trish Klein (guitar, banjo, vocals), formed in the late 1990s after meeting at tree-planting camps in British Columbia — yes, apparently these exist in Canada, which is clearly a more thoughtful place. The band also once included the Tom Waits-feted folk singer Jolie Holland. The band is known for its exquisite harmonies, renditions of traditional songs such as “Oh! Susannah” and particularly a rousing take on “The Lakes of Pontchartrain,” as well as original songs faithful to traditional roots music. Ford’s sweetly warbling voice also has been featured on her solo ablum Obadiah, released in 2010. You may have heard her haunting “Firecracker” now and then on KCRW, where she also recently performed.
The German label was founded in 1975 and has come to be known for specializing in Americana, releasing extravagant boxed sets complete with books and rare recordings. Come in to the store and look for the display to check out some sweet Bear Family sets like Tex Ritter’s High Noon, Hank Snow’s The Singing Ranger Vol. 3 and The Osborne Brothers’ 1968-1974!