Reviews

The Game of Monogamy

Author: Katherine Silkaitis
09/30/2010 | Hartford Courant | www.courant.com | Live Show Preview
From Nebraska to Los Angeles to Montana, Tim Kasher has lived and worked in a series of opposing cultures. Yet, the frontman of Omaha-based bands Cursive and the Good Life says that his music isn't always a conscious reflection of his surroundings.

"I'm not very good at recognizing how the environment affects writing. I'm convinced that it does, but I'm just not sure how," he says. "I didn't move to L.A. and write really fast-paced, frustrated music, and I didn't move to Whitefish [Mont.] and write really laid-back folk music."

But pinpointing the effect of his Midwest upbringing is a bit easier. Kasher explains that the Midwest scene tends to be grittier and less commercial because musicians don't plan to make a career out of music. Also, the area's blue-collar ethic means that musicians "don't want to give off the impression that [they] have any false hopes of making a career out of it.

"What I really like about a lot of Omaha music is that the bands here really tend to rail against success and they write less forgiving music to challenge the listeners. I think that's great."

Kasher's debut album, "The Game of Monogamy," is set for release Tuesday, and while it's a different beast than his work with either post-punk group Cursive or the indie/folk rock of the Good Life, it's a logical but surprising combination of the two.

"I still maintain always wanting to write things that I think are somewhat challenging and somewhat aggressive, whether it's lyrically or musically," Kasher says. "On this record, I just started dabbling in the world of arrangement and orchestration. That's the latest challenge for me."

"The Game of Monogamy" is beautiful and orchestral, yet unnerving and naked. Grand crescendos of horns and strings give way to Kasher's almost frail a cappella singing, which leads into stark, angular melodies. Like Cursive and Good Life songs, tunes are complex, but the solo outfit highlights Kasher's songwriting ability, which can be lost in the midst of full-on bands.

More pop-oriented than Cursive, more aggressive than the Good Life, "The Game of Monogamy" is a gem of a solo album that neither abandons the music of past nor appears as a run-of-the-mill singer/songwriter album.

"Even though I'm really infantile with this project, I feel like I can already recognize benefits of having this one format where I can just write for oboe or harp, and I don't have to worry whether there's a drum beat or not," he says with a slight laugh. "Then I recognize that it's also nice to be back with a band again, to have a group of people all working towards something together. I like having both."

Tim Kasher performs with Stephen Brodsky on Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at Toad's Place, 300 York St., New Haven. Admission: $10-$12. Information: 203-624-8623 and http://www.toadsplace.com
The Game of Monogamy

The Game of Monogamy

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