Reviews

Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Eric Lochridge
06/19/2009 | Rapid City Journal | www.rapidcityjournal.com | Live Show Preview
Like many indie-rockers, Matt Maginn chafes at musical labels. As Cursive's bass player, he's hesitant to offer comparisons because the other members of his Omaha-based band might not agree. Sow that initial seed of discord, and the next thing you know, Cursive has been erased.
So, no, Maginn told me, he'd rather not answer my question of how he would classify Cursive's music.
Fair enough. But as a music writer, I live for genre-bending labels.
Listening to Cursive's sixth and most recent album, "Mama, I'm Swollen," I was reminded of a pair of '90s alternative bands Sunny Day Real Estate and the Afghan Whigs.
What I wasn't reminded of was "roots punk," which is one of the odder descriptions of the band's music I have encountered.
So when I got the chance to interview Maginn, labels were on my mind.
"I think that's very difficult for a band to do for themselves," he said. "We don't really set out to be a certain genre. It's weird for us to try and claim one."
But he and I did agree that roots punk misses the mark, and that "Mama, I'm Swollen" released in March by Saddle Creek Records is an intriguing rock record.
"It's sort of all encompassing. In a lot of ways, I think it reaches back to even our first record," he said, citing the album's range, from "quiet slow brooding" to "a little more experimental, a little more odd."
The band is happy with the reception fans have given "Mama, I'm Swollen."
"I think the longtime fans are the ones that like it," Maginn said. "We've put out a lot of records. I feel like it ebbs and flows."
Cursive plans to spend much of 2009 on tour, and its show tonight with locals The Reddmen and Box Elders at the Dahl Arts Center will be its first performance in Rapid City. Touring with a strong album of literate songs is certain to raise the band's profile and the national exposure of playing "Late Night with David Letterman" earlier this spring won't hurt either.
But any notion of success is secondary to what the band's true intentions are.
"We've never written with success in mind, other than to write a good song, not to appeal to a certain audience or anything," he said. "We don't have a plan for that. We never have. Our plan is to try to put out a different record than the last."
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

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