Reviews

Happy Hollow

Author: Kati Llewellyn, Amy Phillips
03/28/2006 | Pitchforkmedia.com | www.pitchforkmedia.com | Feature
That's what Cursive have done on their forthcoming album, Happy Hollow, due out August 22 on Saddle Creek. It's their first new record since cellist Gretta Cohn left both Cursive and Omaha for the Big Apple last year. In an interview with Pitchfork last week, frontman Tim Kasher talked about those horns, and the new album in general.

Cursive started plowing away at the new material last month with veteran Saddle Creek producer Mike Mogis, recording for a week as a full band. Afterward, Kasher and guitarist/vocalist Ted Stevens recorded some, uh, guitars and vocals in the band's practice space. Now everyone has returned to Lincoln, Nebraska where they're, "mixing and doing other tricks," according to Kasher" Yeah, dudes know how to work some magic.

Happy Hollow's brass shenanigans come courtesy of Nate Wolcott and his five-piece horn arrangements. Kasher told Pitchfork, "We actually have no strings on this record. We considered it kind of just song to song, because we didn't want to rule it out. But the more that everyone was excited for the horn stuff, the more that it just seemed like a honking kind of record-- more to do with those abrupt, punchy sounds and less of what could be a smooth record with strings." We're hoping that Cursive's honking is vastly different from Reel Big Fish's honking, or a goose's.

Kasher & Kompany have cranked out 20 tracks for the record to date, though it looks like they'll carve that number down to 14 for the final product. Out of these 14, three songs have been titled at this point: "Hymns for the Heathen" (the opener), "Bad Sects", and "Bad Science". As for the title Happy Hollow, "It's the name we gave to this kind of loose idea of a small town," Kasher explained. "As far as some of the storytelling we did on this record, I kind of broke it down into three very vague categories that the songs are being set under, which would be religions, sects, and small towns. So in one way or another they all fit under one or all three of those categories from song to song. That title is what we kind of named the town."

Of Happy Hollow's style and goals, Kasher said, "I really did want to go at it from a really clear perspective and I do think that in some ways some of the stuff has come out a little jagged or off... I think some of the more straightforward stuff kind of came about because we never did that as often, so that felt different to us. For goals, I think with any record that we do, I tend to go into it thinking that I want it to be louder and quieter and more expressive than the last one that we did."

You'll be able to catch those dynamic changes at Lollapalooza in Chicago this August, which Cursive were recently confirmed to play. They haven't set a North American tour in stone yet, but it's looking like they'll grace a venue near you in September. New Yorkers can catch the group in July, where they'll be playing a few shows in support of a three- or four-song single due out that month. Kasher told Pitchfork that recruiting a brass section for live performances isn't the easiest thing in the world, laughing, "We've cursed ourselves with all these horns on the record!"

In addition to the single, Cursive will release a split 7" with Seattle band the Cops on Mt. Fuji Records, using material taken from the six or so songs that didn't make it on to Happy Hollow.

In the meantime, Kasher's side project, the Good Life, will get together for a couple weeks in May to put about fifteen songs together for a new album.

And Gretta Cohn? In addition to working on several projects (both solo and with other Saddle Creek labelmates) in Brooklyn, she recently contributed several songs to the indie film The Guatemalan Handshake and several words to a Belle and Sebastian interview that appeared on this very website.
Happy Hollow

Happy Hollow

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