Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


The Ugly Organ

Author: Paul Maldonado Jr.
06/04/2004 | Albuquerque Tribune | | Live Show Preview
Cursive's music has been called emo for grown-ups - emo being the post-punk genre that strives for earnestness, sometimes to the point of schmaltz.

But Cursive - Tim Kasher on vocals, guitar and organ; Matt Maginn on bass and vocals; Clint Schnase on drums; Ted Stevens on guitar and vocals; and Gretta Cohn on cello - avoids the schmaltz.

The quintet's music is dissonant yet restrained, creating a balance of beauty and chaos, as Kasher takes a stab at emo self-analysis. The band's dynamic instrumentation - the friction between the organ and cello lines, and the thundering rhythms and disjointed guitars - is coupled with lyrical catharsis, in the form of Kasher's dreamy-screamy vocals.

The group's fourth full-length is the concept album "The Ugly Organ," a self-loathing operetta of sexual and emotional confusion and conflict. Kasher prefers to call it "a collection of short stories," though he insists it isn't autobiographical.

"Most of it is fiction . . . based on autobiographical situations," Kasher says during a phone interview from his home in Omaha, Neb. "Even the fiction is based on honesty."

"But that honesty, it confuses people sometimes," he continues. "They take it to be your life, your life story. Whatever you write - I write - has to be based on your own experiences."

So, of course, Kasher imbues his music and lyrics with the emotion and fervor of his relative youth, thus the emo tag.

"It's just part of . . . it's kind of like the liner notes of this generation," Kasher explains. "I'll live through that, because eventually it'll all become irrelevant, the labels. It's just rock 'n' roll."

He prefers a subtler approach, letting the music do the talking.

"I try to avoid labels; I try to avoid being genre specific," he says. "I think this is harder and more aggressive then our previous stuff. But when you get down to it, it's just rock 'n' roll."

The 29-year-old has been playing rock 'n' roll in bands since he was 14. Kasher says it feels like he's been on tour just as long - the band recently did three weeks on the East Coast, with five days off before embarking for 3 weeks on the West Coast and Southwest - though he has never been to the Duke City.

"Albuquerque? Actually not," he says. "We've been touring for years, but we always just pass through."

"The Ugly Organ" came out last year on Saddle Creek, and the band toured extensively behind it, but no longer.

"We're passed that; that tour ran it's course, even though there's a single (`The Recluse') coming out this week off that CD," Kasher says, explaining the label is still promoting the record. "I personally feel we've finished that tour for that record. For this tour, we're doing a wider range of songs from the whole catalog, from `Such Blinding Stars For Starving Eyes' (the band's first album) to 'The Ugly Organ.' "

The purpose of this tour is the Plea For Peace Foundation, a group that uses music to promote the electoral process. The foundation, along with Music For America, is sponsoring the tour and taking a nonpartisan, grass-roots approach in getting young people registered to vote.

"Mike Park started the foundation; I met him last year," Kasher says by way of explaining Cursive's participation in the 2004 tour. "He asked me if we could help."

And so far, so good.

"It's going really well," Kasher says. "They seem to be registering lots and lots of people wherever we go. Music For America, which is behind the registration, seems very pleased."

And Cursive fans should be pleased, as well, as Kasher promises some new tunes.

"We're playing a few new songs, here and there," he says, "but they don't have names, yet.

"The working titles are 'Song 5' and 'Song 6.' "

Those may eventually find their way onto the next Cursive CD, though there's no schedule yet.

"I'm not really sure when (we'll do a new one), though we've written a batch of songs," Kasher says. "But I'm not sure what the next project will be."
The Ugly Organ

The Ugly Organ

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