Cass McCombs with The Walkmen and Pomegranates

July 22 • The Mad Hatter

Jul 20, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Try picking a venue here that suits Cass McCombs and his Catacombs well. Would it be the Mad Hatter? (Maybe.) Madison Theater? Taft? If he's touring the new album, he needs a lot of space, some place where he could thrive — at least on the material from Catacombs, his fourth and latest offering.

Take the opening track “Dream-Come-True-Girl,” a starlit, ’50s Pop number complete with the haunting vocals of actress Karen Black. A nod to The Everly Brothers, it’s a stand-out track in part because the 10 others lean on Alt.Country — among them, “You Saved My Life” owns the sappiest of pedal steel lines. Overall, though, Catacombs is a dreamy slow burner.

McCombs really hit his stride when he released the kaleidoscopic Dropping the Writ with Domino Records in 2007, becoming labelmates with The Arctic Monkeys, Lightspeed Champion and Yo! Majesty. The Baltimore native is still under the radar, though — perhaps because he averts interviews, as Domino even admits in a bio (“Understand that all there is to know about Cass McCombs can be found in his songs,” it reads).

His mysterious personality is captured in the “You Saved My Life” video, in which a Canadian Tuxedo-donning McCombs (I think) walks aimlessly through a crowded beer festival and later dances in a shadowy room with a … cowgirl? It’s not exactly a puzzling piece, but it does affirm his peculiar sense of humility. Indeed, that could be challenged if The Walkmen and beloved locals Pomegranates sell out Mad Hatter.

(Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)