"Love thine enemy / But hate their lack of sincerity." So begins Cass McCombs's Humor Risk, the second album he released in 2011, following April's Wit's End. Risk is a woozy, crunchy, eight-cut whirlwind, with an opening cut that helped make it one of our favorite albums of last year, while End is a more downbeat, dour affair. Both Risk and End were responsible for McCombs essentially going aboveground in '11. Active since 2002, McCombs is a virtual worldwide nomad whose influences can be pegged as Bob Dylan, Beck's quieter passages, and Pavement. McCombs made waves at the end of the year by releasing the song "Bradley Manning" in support of the titular U.S. Army WikiLeaks whistleblower.
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