Reviews

Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Ryan Dezember
12/02/2009 | Mobile Press Register | blog.al.com/entertainment-press-register/2009/12/cursive_jay_reatard_headline_t.html | Live Show Preview
In recent years luring one indie rock A-lister would have been a feat for a downtown club. Needless to say that booking two for separate performances in the same weekend was unheard of.

The Alabama Music Box, however, has pulled off the coup with a pair of shows slated for this weekend.

Cursive, the critically acclaimed Omaha, Neb., emo outfit, headlines Thursday night. And Jay Reatard, the much-lauded Memphis garage punk whose latest release "Watch Me Fall" has generated enough buzz to land a feature story in a recent issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine, brings his trio to town Sunday night.

The Dauphin Street venue has, over the last year, been building its reputation, along with that of Mobile's, as a viable tour stop for bands that might typically hold their Gulf Coast tour stops to New Orleans.

"After two decades of not having a venue for up-and-coming bands, it took us being open for a year and asking agents to bring bands here," music Box owner David Matthews said this week. "I think it's the right time."

In the last several months acts ranging from the hard-rocking and chaotic Israeli three-piece Monotonix to anthemic Florida punk rockers Against Me!, alt-country songstress Jenny Lewis and Boston rapper Mr. Lif have played to a packed house.

Matthews, who worked in entertainment booking at other clubs before opening the Music Box, said that until fairly recently noteworthy musicians were likely only to play in Mobile if their travel arrangements mandated doing so. Steadily, he said, that has changed.

"It's not necessarily just that we have a cool venue," Matthews said. "It's the people coming out supporting the shows."

While Cursive's new album, "Mama, I'm Swollen," hasn't received the rave reviews of 2003's "The Ugly Organ," the current collection probably has more crossover appeal. The band made its network television debut in March, playing the album's lead single, "From the Hips" on The Late Show with David Letterman.

None of that is to say that Cursive has deviated much from its original blueprint. The songs are often take unexpected turns, are prone to add volume as they progress, and are often punctuated by instruments -- trumpets, cello -- that lie outside the usual realm of hard rock. Relationships -- rarely the positive aspects -- dominate frontman Tim Kasher's brooding lyrics.

Opening Thursday is Capgun Coup, another Nebraska band that is perhaps best be described as shambolic. Or messy.

Jay Reatard was born Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr. His punk rock moniker is a holdover from his class-clowning days before he dropped out of school in his early teens to become what the Times termed the "enfant terrible of the Memphis scene" and released more than 20 albums and dozens of self-recorded singles.

Though his stage name may have remained sophomoric, his songwriting has matured.

"Watch Me Fall," released on Matador Records in August is filled with poppy yet raw punk numbers that defy a more precise label. Somehow they retain their melody no matter how fast they're played on a given night. The album's lead single, "It Ain't Gonna Save Me," may be one of the best of 2009, punk or otherwise. And it may not be the best song on the record.

The local drunk funk troupe, Super Nice Bros., which combines bawdy lyrics, live drums, prerecorded bass lines and partial male nudity, opens.

Both shows are all ages. Doors open for Cursive and Capgun Coup at 8 p.m., for Jay Reatard at 9 p.m. Admission to both shows is $12.
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

LP / CD / MP3