The Ugly Organ
Author: Tim Scott
Until now Tim Kasher is best known as the other sensitive indie rocker from Omaha, Nebraska, the first of course being Malcom X, no wait, I mean Conor Oberst (it's so easy to mix your radical civil rights leaders with indie rockers). Over three albums, an EP, and a couple of splits, Kasher has progressively opened his heart and mind, laying his emotions bare. 2000's incredible 'Domestica' was a classic break up album; it's thinly veiled lyrics, detailing a painful divorce. Only Beck's 'Sea Change' has dealt with break up better in recent years. 'The Ugly Organ' is quite a leap forward. A concept album of sorts, set as a play about sex and relationships - the liner notes include stage directions and a strange cast of characters, including "Organist," "Harlequins," and "Harold - the songs are sorrowful, contemplative, and sometimes funny, that still manage to shimmer with a sense of hope. It is also a very self conscious, you could even say, self absorbed record, with Kasher offering no less than three songs about songwriting: "Oh, a second verse! Well, colour me fatigued/I'm hiding in the leaves, in the CD jacket sleeves,' he sings on 'Some Red Handed Sleight Of Hand.' The addition of Bright Eyes cellist Gretta Cohn has lightened the mood to many of the songs. Her gentle cello line drives 'Driftwood: A Fairy Tale,' which recasts Pinocchio as a fickle boyfriend who walks to his watery grave. The album's greatest triumph, the ten-minute closing track 'Staying Alive' has Kasher delivering an impassioned soliloquy about his self-frustration. It's emotional torment that sounds fucking rad. His voice crumbling like the crumbled relationships he sings about. He pleads in a grating, even slurred voice that adds to the overall melancholy. The volatility and charged emotion making it all the more sincere. Songs cover everything from the emptiness of vengeful sex ('A Gentleman Caller') to the fear associated with pathetic loneliness ('The Recluse') - and Kasher's peculiar approach, allow him to avoid classification and transcend easy description. Each song expresses love, lust and emotional discord which is a fitting aural accompaniment to a man taking a good, hard look at himself.