I was having a conversation the other day with my girlfriend about Lightspeed Champion’s album, which I’m a big fan of, but she explained that she was put off by the first song on the record (‘Galaxy of the Lost’, technically the second track – the first is a very brief interlude). Once she actually listened to the album, she realised she liked it but even now she’s put off a little by that first track. I have certainly had instances of that in the past (‘Big Exit’ on PJ Harvey’s ‘Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea’ springs to mind, though I’m sure there are plenty of others).
I had the same problem, initially, with the new Cass McCombs album, ‘Dropping The Writ’. The first song, ‘Lionkiller’ kind of feels out of place with the rest of the album and, for me, is the least interesting song on there. And I didn’t really give the album a chance because of that. But then it slowly dawned on me how good the album is – it’s packed with wonderfully-crafted songs. ‘Crick in my Neck’ is possibly my favourite song of the year so far but you’ve also got the likes of ‘Pregnant Pause’, ‘Wheel Of Fortune’ and ‘That’s That’ – all superb songs. The album is a delicate beauty that really does take time for it’s true majesty to unfold. And while one can certainly trace influences from The Smiths and Lloyd Cole and The Commotions and The Byrds, he also sounds purely like himself. And that’s probably due to the uniqueness of his voice – not technically perfect but it has the ability to instantly warm the heart. I missed out on his last album ‘PREfection’, mainly because I had heard so many bad reports, though I’m rather fond of his debut album, ‘A’. It used to be a bit of a favourite around at my mate’s house but I haven’t listened to it in ages – must dig it out again. I’ve included some footage of him performing ‘That’s That’ for the radio, which gives you some idea of how good he is.