Reviews

The Ugly Organ

4/8/2003 | The Whipping Post | Feature
Something's been brewing in the Omaha scene for some time now, and Cursive's latest album The Ugly Organ is putting even more of the spotlight on Nebraska.
Cursive- lead vocalist and guitarist Tim Kasher, guitarist and backing vocalist Ted Stevens, bassist Matt Maginn, cellist Gretta Cohn, and drummer Clint Schnase -has been a driving force in indie rock for years producing a very unique sound and cultivating a cult following. This Omaha quintet have built a reputation upon being in a musical class all their own. And now, they are popping up on the major music radar. According to Kasher, the recognition that they are getting is surprising, and it has all fallen into their laps.
"Sometimes people need something more tangible like the New York Times or Rolling Stone to be like 'Oh, I see. You are successful,'" said Kasher.
Whether Kasher is passionately screaming out his personal yet universal lyrics or poetically reciting them in barely a whisper, the raw clenched-fist power of Cursive is enough to drive anyone into the deepest levels of introspection.
The Ugly Organ is Cursive's fourth album, but their first with the inclusion of a cello. According to Kasher, Cursive drew from outside of conventional rock forms in order to keep everything fresh and to try something new.
"After doing Domestica, I needed a way to stay invigorated," said Kasher.
The addition of Cohn to the group has brought a sort of orchestral sophistication to the already overwhelming tightness to create a sound that is surely larger than any one person in the band.
The Ugly Organ not only demonstrates the band's passionate precision in musicianship, but also demonstrates their literary intelligence. Cursive equips the album's liner notes with stage directions, as well as interweaves the fairy tale character of Pinocchio into a relationship song in a way that only Cursive can pull off. According to Kasher, the stage directions help separate the different perspectives and feelings of the album.
"We look at a record as a collection of short stories," said Kasher.
The arrangement of these songs could not have created a better progression. The beginning of the album rises with carnival sounds building into one of the most brutal songs on the album. By the end, the The Ugly Organ peaks in a crescendo of choir voices including the vocal talents of many of their fellow label-mates.
With the success of Cursive in the indie world and a side band called The Good Life, music is no doubt a driving point in Kasher's day. However, in the band's earliest days like most bands Cursive would have to find time to fit making music in where ever they could.
"In the past when I was a janitor, I would vacuum and write notes down," said Kasher.
The Good Life is another Saddle Creek band that Kasher fronts, however with a much more relaxed attitude toward to song writing.
"The Good Life is really simple personal songs that I write very casually," said Kasher.
Quite often when members of bands start having decently successful side-projects, then the quality of the music of the original band is compromised.
However, The Ugly Organ completely puts my fears to rest about Cursive. Some songs on the album are so beautiful that you would think that Cursive is in a place that most of the bands these days could never touch.
The Ugly Organ

The Ugly Organ

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