Reviews

Burst and Bloom

10/10/2001 | Flagpole | www.flagpole.com | Feature
There's a manic element to Cursive's live show. One moment, singer-guitarist Tim Kasher will be pouring his heart, body and vocal chords into every brutal word that emerges from his mouth, while the next he will be standing like some mildly embarrassed kid sheepishly thanking the crowd for coming out to see the band play. This balance between raw rock and roll power and midwestern politeness, along with a series of strong releases and relentless touring, has helped the band build a well deserved and loyal following.

The story of Cursive is a rocky one. After a series of successful 7" platters and two independent full-length releases, original guitarist, Scott Pederson was accepted to Duke law school. His decision to attend and Tim Kasher's marriage and move from Omaha to Portland, Oregon caused Cursive's demise in 1998.

By 2000, though, Kasher was divorced and back in Omaha where he and the original Cursive rhythm section of bassist Matt Maginn and drummer Clint Schnase called upon friend Ted Stevens (of Lullaby For The Working Class) to take over Pederson's guitar and backing vocal duties. With this lineup, the quartet recorded the striking Domestica (Saddle Creek), a 32-minute portrait of the brutal downward spiral of a romantic relationship. Domestica proved to be the band's true breakout, garnering praise from fans and critics alike and finding Cursive startled by its own success.

But success has strange side effects. After non-stop touring in support of the album, Maginn and Kasher sat down and hashed out ideas about what to do next. An EP seemed to make a lot of sense because it would serve the dual purpose of satiating fans with new material and giving the band more time to write songs for the next full-length. But, the marketing mindset that went along with this idea struck an ugly chord with Kasher. His feelings of disgust manifested themselves on the opening track of the recent release Burst And Bloom(Saddle Creek): "Sink To The Beat." This scathing piece of self-flagellation finds Kasher confessing his dirtiest and most honest secrets about the music he writes, including direct name checks of the bands he rips off. In the song's most revealing lyric, Kasher strains atop Schnase's precise, syncopated drum beat, "But I can see through these haunting themes my moldy dreams/ are debased by the same hands that shaped them."

Beyond the new lyrical content, Burst And Bloom finds Cursive venturing into new sonic terrain. First, there is the addition of Gretta Cohn whose cello parts aptly add staccato immediacy and legato dramatic tension to the band's instrumental arrangements. And the angular and driving instrumentation that has exemplified Cursive has been intensified yet another notch with Schnase and Maginn's collective rhythm work sounding tighter than ever and Stevens' and Kasher's guitars more biting than before. Additionally, the EP features the band's first non-Kasher penned track in the form of the swirling and dynamic Ted Stevens-written and sung "Tell Tales, Telltales."

For the first time since Burst And Bloom's release, Cursive brings its intense and engaging live show, including Cohn and her cello, to the road. It's essentially guaranteed to be an evening where Kasher will cut out his heart and feed it to you through your ears: and then thank you for coming to see the band play.

WHO: Cursive, Sorry About Dresden, Jet By Day
WHERE: 40 Watt Club
WHEN: Tuesday, October 16
HOW MUCH: $6
Burst and Bloom

Burst and Bloom

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