CD: Cass McCombs - Tip of the Sphere The cranky Californian is back with his best album yet

From The Arts Desk Tip of the Sphere is a freewheeling blend of vintage sounds that evokes San Francisco in the early Seventies. To fans this will come as little surprise. McCombs has been moving in this direction for a while, and his new album draws heavily on his earlier work. There's a some of the intimacy of Wit's End and a lot of the prettiness of Catacombs. More than anything, the singer takes what he did with his last LP, Mangy Love, and makes it all a little better. The opener starts with a looping psychedelic riff reminiscent of early Tim Buckley. Over the next few tracks we hear hints of the Grateful Dead, and Gram Parsons, all served up with shovelfuls of prog and country. The clo

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