Reviews

Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Troy L. Smith
07/22/2009 | Rochester Metromix | www.rochester.metromix.com | Live Show Preview
Ted Stevens spent his recent downtime doing something you wouldn't expect a guitarist for one of indie rock's pioneering bands to be doing putting up a fence in his yard.

"That's my big project this week," says Stevens by phone from his home in Omaha, Neb. "After a big tour, we just kind of decompress for a while." Stevens and his band mates in Cursive have spent the better part of this year touring in support of their latest album, Mama, I'm Swollen, released in March. And things will pick up again in late July, as the band hits the road for another tour, including a show at the Bug Jar on Thursday, July 30.

The performance will give local fans their first chance to hear live versions of Cursive's most traditional recordings yet. The band built its reputation on albums like 2006's Happy Hollow and 2003's breakthrough Ugly Organ, both of which feature complex concepts and diverse instrumentation. Yet, Mama, I'm Swollen takes a more straightforward emo-rock approach, which has its advantages. In March, Cursive performed the single "From the Hips" on the Late Show with David Letterman, marking the band's first mainstream television appearance in 13 years.

"It was quite bizarre," Stevens says. "It's a long day of checking and rehearsing to make everything perfect for one song." Yet, reviews of Mama, I'm Swollen have been mixed. While magazines such as Rolling Stone and Blender have praised the band for pulling in the reins a bit, Entertainment Weekly and Pitchfork.com knocked the album for not sounding like Cursive something Stevens quickly dismisses.

"Obviously, it does (sound like Cursive), because we made it," he says. But fans and critics alike might as well get used to the group's evolution. Now that band members are in their early to mid-30s, Stevens says they'd like to turn things around faster, instead of going their usual few years between albums. And he suggests that those albums will probably sound as unique as Mama, I'm Swollen.

"We're not the same people that we were back then, and our experiences and interests have changed," he says. "The band's definitely going to sound different. That's something we all set out to do when we were young is to break the mold. I don't think we've done that yet, but we're sure trying."
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

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