Saturday, February 26, 2005

C, final.

Cursive- The Ugly Organ

A pleasant surprise, one that I heard about for a good long while before I finally checked it out. I admit to not having any other Cursive record besides this one, and, as such, not having a lot of knowledge about their past work. I do remember one of my friends raving about ‘Domestica,’ an album (not so?) loosely tied to/around the concept of divorce- and this after said friend went through a pretty awful, messy relationship situation himself.

So ‘The Ugly Organ’ is really, really self-referenced, but not in the same smug way that a band like Pavement is, where the crux of the self-reference is a bunch of injokes (hey, wait a minute- I just described me and all my friends! DAMN YOU STEVEN MALKMUS! DAMN YOU TO HELL!) Instead, Tim Kasher’s lyrics are referring back on the process of songwriting and of being in a rock act, making this a record which reaches out to other people who are in bands- smart without being cloying, leaving enough open-ended so that the proverbial you can plug in whatever band experiences are applicable. There are enough thematic threads that run through the record so that it could probably be safely referred to as a ‘rock opera’ or a ‘concept album’ (both terms which I fear we’re going to be hearing a lot more of, in the wake of Green Day’s spectacular success with ‘American Idiot’ [a record which I enjoy immensely, don’t get me wrong- it’s just been a while since I can remember an instance of a r.o./c.a hitting the collective pop consciousness as hard. There are already legions of Green Day copycats- a wave of further, and more tedious, imitation will soon follow, just you wait.])

Musically, Cursive has all the trademark sounds that you’ve come to expect out of the dreaded ‘e’ word. There’s more to their stuff, though. The record doesn’t stop and start so much as it lurches- not pauses but complete stops, followed by complete re-starts, like trying to get your car going on a winter morning. The band’s cello player is exceptional at adding unexpected depth, and Kasher’s vocals manage to transcend the clichés of the genre- no shouting, really, with lyrics that are not only intelligible but well-enunciated so that the casual listener can catch on faster.

Cut The Shit- Marked For Life

I saw Cut The Shit’s stickers on lampposts and stop signs all over town for a long time before I bought their collection of singles and comp tracks. So impressed was I by their name and self-promotion that I almost bought a t-shirt before I got the record- I’m crazy like that sometimes. Luckily, the CD was three bucks and the shirt was seven. Now I know to file their stuff in the same mental place where I keep C.R. and Charles Bronson- the “I just don’t get it” folder. Cool shirts, though.


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