Reviews

Happy Hollow

Author: Brian McKinney
08/09/2006 | Amps 11 | www.ampseleven.com | Album Review
Omaha's indie rock giants, Cursive, are entering their second decade as a band this year and they're not going quietly. August 22nd marks the release of Happy Hollow, their first full-length (new material) album in 3 years. Their last album, 2003's The Ugly Organ was followed up with a b-sides and rarities disc in 2005, but most Cursive fans already had most of those tracks on their respective iPods. Those familiar with the band know that The Ugly Organ was a step into new territory for Cursive. In addition to the core foursome of Tim Kasher (vocals/guitar), Ted Stevens (guitar/vocals), Matt Maginn (bass) and Clint Schnase (drums), Greta Cohn came onboard wielding a cello, and baby, the cello was anything but mellow. But alas, Greta departed the band earlier this year and instead of adding another cellist, the band decided to evolve once again and add a 5-piece horn ensemble (arranged by Nate Wolcott of Bright Eyes). Some of you might have just grimaced at the word "horn." You might be thinking, "One of the greatest indie rock bands ever just went ska?" Rest assured, this record is anything but skanking. For the most part the horns just enforce the rhythms and when they do stand out they sound a little bit Stooges-esque. No complaints here.

As would be expected, singer/songwriter Tim Kasher continues his tradition of writing superb rock songs riddled with self-deprecating and personal lyrics. There's still a heavy heaping of it, but Kasher's raised the bar and opened to gates to include subject matter as racy and controversial as religion, homosexuality, small towns melancholy and the sects that develop in civilization. In fact, the 14 tracks of Happy Hollow are referred to as the "14 Hymns for the Heathen." "Dorothy Dreams of Tornados" (or Hymn five, 'Sodom Falls To Ashes') is classic Kasher consisting of 3 minutes worth of a dying relationship in a suffocating town. New territory comes by way of double-entendre titled, "Bad Sects," a story of same sex relationships within the Church. Kasher sings in third-person, "We woke to the chimes and the bells of the steeple / And ran off to separate rooms / They can't know what we've done / Our whole world would come undone."

Fans of The Ugly Organ will agree that Organ's highs are higher, but Happy Hollow keeps a steady pace and never lets you down. This is Cursive's most adventurous work to date and it's apparent that they've grown quite comfortable with the skin they're in. This album struts with an almost arrogant vibe, which makes it all the more refreshing.

If you want to hear Happy Hollow before every one else, a special pre-release listening party is scheduled for August 16th at The Spot on Pecan Ave in Charlotte, NC. Admission is free and there will be Saddle Creek merch giveaways. Album starts at 8pm sharp, courtesy of Queen City Independent and The Spot.
Happy Hollow

Happy Hollow

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