Cursive


(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Cursive: Such Blinding Stars (1997), 6/10
Cursive: The Storms of Early Summer (1998), 6/10
Cursive: Domestica (2000), 7/10
Cursive: The Ugly Organ (2003), 7/10
Good Life: Novena on a Nocturn (2000), 6/10
Good Life: Black Out (2002), 5/10
Good Life: Album Of The Year (2004), 6.5/10
Mayday: Old Blood (2002), 6/10
Mayday: I Know Your Troubles Been Long (2003), 5/10
Mayday: Bushido Karaoke (2005), 6/10
Cursive: Happy Hollow (2006), 6.5/10
Good Life: Help Wanted Nights (2007), 5/10
Mama I'm Swollen (2009), 5/10
I Am Gemini (2012), 4/10
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Cursive, formed in Omaha (Nebraska) by guitarist and vocalist Tim Kasher, debuted with the singles The Disruption (Saddle Creek, 1997) and Sucker and Dry (Zero Hour, 1997), soon to be followed by the albums Such Blinding Stars (Starving Eyes, 1997) and The Storms of Early Summer (Saddle Creek, 1998). These early works, featuring Stephen Pedersen on guitar, already displayed the leader's erudite and tortured persona, and his ambition to craft a post-emocore punk ballad.

Lullaby For The Working Class' guitarist Ted Stevens replaced Perderson in time for the concept album, Domestica (Saddle Creek, 2000), that showed Kasher reaching a remarkable musical and lyrical maturity.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Carlo Cravero)

Formati in Omaha (Nebraska) dal chitarrista e cantante Tim Kasher, i Cursive hanno debuttato con i singoli The Disruption (Saddle Creek, 1997) e Sucker and Dry (Zero Hour, 1997), subito seguiti dagli album Such Blinding Stars (Starving Eyes, 1997) e The Storms of Early Summer (Saddle Creek, 1998). Fin da questi primi lavori emergono l'anima colta e torturata del leader e l'ambizione di comporre ballate punk post-emocore. Ted Stevens, chitarrista dei Lullaby for the Working Class, si inserisce nei Cursive in tempo per la registrazione del concept album Domestica (Saddle Creek, 2000), che mostra un Kasher notevolmente maturo sia a livello musicale che di songwriting.

A new member, cellist Gretta Cohn, played on the EP Burst And Bloom (2001) and on Cursive's fourth album, The Ugly Organ (Saddle Creek, 2003), with Kasher increasingly toying with keyboards. The album was another impressive achievement by a maturing philosopher. The opener, Some Red Handed Sleight of Hand, charged with punkish fervor amid distorted organ glissandoes, primal guitar riffs and assorted noises. Kasher joined the higher ranks of the tortured souls of folk-rock with Art is Hard (also a single), mixing emocore melodrama and the angular punch of 1980s' noise-rock, with the desperate and chaotic A Gentleman Caller (probably the most reminiscent of earlier albums, a cry that suddenly turns all tender and meditative), and with the sobbing Butcher the Song. One element stands out, eventually, and it's fear. It fully surfaces in all its terrible splendor in Harold Weathervein (punctuated with staccato strings and ended with spectral organ clangor) and in the following song, Bloody Murderer (scarred by industrial rhythms, soaring cello and even funereal bells), but it underlies much of the album's confessions. He mellows down in The Recluse (the only song on which one can truly appreciate the instrumental subtleties, in particular the cello) and in the atmospheric Driftwood (driven by a solemn whisper and a disquieting organ whistle), that embodies emo's ideal balance of narrative and feelings. The 10-minute closer, Staying Alive, is a stately summary of the album's themes: a slow instrumental crescendo leading to a loud, distorted, frantic quasi-raga jam that after six minutes decays into a paradise of dilated vocals and moribund chords.
Kasher composed songs as sequences and layers of agonizing creative bursts, and the band responded by packing Kasher's creations in uniquely eccentric formats.

Cursive's guitarist Stephen Pedersen formed Criteria.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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Tim Kasher's side-project Good Life released Novena on a Nocturn (Better Looking, 2000), a collection of stark and melancholy ballads, Black Out (Saddle Creek, 2002), a more tuneful work bordering on synth-pop and a more existential meditation, and Album Of The Year (Saddle Creek, 2004). The latter, a linear, straightforward alter-ego of The Ugly Organ, pivots around traditional song formats such as the jangling, lilting Album of the Year, the Leonard Cohen-ian hushed lullaby Night And Day the Neil Young-ian rousing elegy You're Not You, the Elvis Costello-ian bouncy singalong Lovers Need Lawyers, the hard-rock ballad Notes In His Pockets. Underneath the poppy surface, though, Kasher hid a stylistic range that perfectly fit the different moods of the songs, with hints to blues (Under A Honeymoon), dixieland jazz (You're No Fool) and country (the first part of the ten-minute Inmates, with male-female vocal harmonies) and Merseybeat (the second part of Inmaters). It stands as one of the most thoughtful and heartfelt song cycles of the era. Unfortunately the last three songs were filler. Sometimes less would be more. (The limited edition release includes acoustic versions of the entire album, performed by Tim Kasher alone).

Cursive's guitarist Ted Stevens formed Mayday to return to the post-rock and alt-country program of Lullaby for the Working Class. Old Blood (Saddle Creek, 2002) was arranged with a multitude of instruments (see the chamber progressive folk of Temple/Temporary/Extempore/Temp) and boasting delicate lullabies such as Cinquefoils. After the inferior I Know Your Troubles Been Long (BAr None, 2003), Mayday penned a poppier work, Bushido Karaoke (Saddle Creek, 2005), on which violinist Tiffany Kowalski frequently steals the show.

The Difference Between Houses And Homes (Saddle Creek, 2005) collects singles and rarities.

After a period of individual side-projects, Cursive reassembled as a quartet with Kasher, Stevens but without Gretta Cohn. Happy Hollow (Saddle Creek, 2006) is a concept album about organized religion (and a scathing indictement of it). This time around Kasher pens songs that are full of tension and sometimes anger. They careen through their weak melodies like a stretched rubber band. The frantic, syncopated funk-rock Dorothy at Forty achieves a sort of tragic grandeur thanks to an epic refrain. Opening The Hymnal Babies is at times positively scary. The sound is much harder than in the past (the agonizing Big Bang, the pounding Flag And Family), but also more creatively arranged (the horn convulsions of Retreat, and especially Bad Science, built on shaky foundations of boogie, funk and Captain Beefheart). In at least one case, the galloping Rise Up Rise Up, they attain a new degree of radio-friendliness. Hymns For The Heathen Kasher can now also sound nonchalant and sarcastic (Dorothy Dreams Of Tornados, with the horns and the staccato progressions of rhythm'n'blues, and especially At Conception, with more of the same but also a catchy melody, like a new version of the J Geils Band). His philosophical lyrics update the Bible to post-modernist literature in a disturbingly stately manner. Cohn's departure left a void in the sound and removed a reference point. The result is that the songs sound more direct and, at the same time, a bit unstable. When Kasher successfully merges these two aspects, the project makes a lot of sense. The music is relentless. There is only one real pause in this emotional-ideological-musical massacre, Into The Fold, a ballad of sorts that is further sweetened by female vocals. The fact that the most memorable songs (Dorothy at Forty and At Conception) hardly recall the style of the early albums shows how much the band has evolved in a decade.

Help Wanted Nights (2007) was a disappointing continuation of Kasher's side-project Good Life. By comparison with the three previous albums, and despite the folk-rock ditty Keely Aimee, it sounds like stereotyped country-pop. The overlong Rest Your Head displayed a modicum of ambition, but not of wisdom.

Kasher's existential lyrics float aimlessly over randomly conceived arrangements of woodwinds and strings on Cursive's Mama I'm Swollen (Saddle Creek, 2009).

The new concept, I Am Gemini (2012), was simply a lame collection that relied too much on Kasher's storyline.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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