It's nice when bands can make beautiful music and still have it rock the casa. One thing that separates this from other similar "indie" bands is a cello, and just the fact that they are really damn good and don't sound like the others. The lyrics range from satire on "emo" music to stories of lost daughters (which brought a tear to my eye). I mention the lyrics because they are really well done, they are vague and easy to understand at the same time. My favorite part of the album is the choir outro in "Staying Alive", I've never felt so right using the word "beautiful" to describe something in a song. Although "Art is Hard", sometimes it comes with beautiful results.
The Ugly Organ is an appropriate title for the Nebraska-based Cursive's latest effort. The band has put together an album that is dissonant, cacophonous, and beautiful at the same time. On this album, the band uses a cello permanently as well as pianos, horns, and yes, organs to the original two guitars, bass, drums and singer Tim Kasher's dynamic voice. These additions have made the band's sound much "bigger" than it was on the comparably stripped-down "Domestica," but its tough to decide if this is a good thing.
Cursive does not hold back with the instrumentation. Songs like "Driftwood", "Art is Hard" and "Sierra" have oscillating levels of intensity, calm at one moment, but thunderous the next. While songs like "Staying Alive" and "Red Handed Slight of Hand", use polyphonic sounds under Kasher's whisper-to-scream vocals to create haunting, rhythmic and epic sounds.
At times, the band gets a little carried away with the larger range of instruments in their inventory making the music a little muddy. Don't get me wrong though, I'm all for the use of a wide range of instruments - in moderation.
Adding to the racket, Kasher's voice has a tone to it that might take you a while to grow to tolerate. It is similar to Cursive's label-mate Conor Oberst's (of Bright Eyes), only harsher and more vibrant.
Listening to The Ugly Organ is like sailing in the middle of a tempest that can't decide whether to spare or impale you on some jagged rocks, but will undoubtedly make you nauseous (a more jostled nausea, not vomit inducing one - if that's possible). Cursive has the hand of God here, if they can relax a little with their instruments and smooth things out, they can still maintain that very original sound they've developed, but sound much cleaner.
Cursive, being one of my favorite bands, had a lot to live up to with this release. Usually, when I absolutely love a band's records, they tend to fail to top themselves, and thus I get disappointed. This is definitely an exception. The first few listens, I had a hard time swallowing this album and Cursive's new sound. Not that Cursive have strayed too far away from their post-hardcore, post-emo, indieish sound they had before, but now that they are writing songs with the cello in mind, things start to change up a little bit. I've had this album for almost 2 months as of this point, and it is already my favorite album as of right now. Cursive have somehow topped themselves yet again, and they continue to amaze me. Tim Kasher and Ted Stevens' dual guitar work is mind boggling at times, while the songs are typically slow to mid-tempo, the guitar work gives the songs a chaotic feel. The cello work, also, is downright amazing, it stands out mainly on 'Some Red Handed Slight of Hand', which is a 2 minute musical marvel. The album is filled with more of the amazing lyrics that have come to be expected of Tim Kasher, not to mention his raspy passionate vocals that help give Cursive their signature sound. Stand out tracks include:
Some Red Handed Slight of Hand: Just under 2 minutes in length, but one of the most amazing tracks on the album still. Definitely different than most everything you've heard from Cursive.
Art is Hard: Another self-analytical song basing itself on Cursive's place in the music scene, reminiscent of 'Sink to the Beat'.
and my personal favorite, Driftwood: In this song, Tim uses imagery from the fairytale, 'Pinocchio', and it simply comes out beautifully.
I recommend this album for fans of good music.
9.333333333333333333333333333 / 10
Reviewed by 3 writers.
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Oh, our beloved Cursive--shall we never hear another Ugly Organ from you? No, we shall not, so stop asking for one. For three albums now, Cursive have been bounded to ...
I first got the chance to interview Tim Kasher directly after the release of Cursives Happy Hollow. A friend and I drove two and a half hours to Buffalo, NY ...
Posted Aug. 17, 2018, 10:29 p.m.
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Posted Nov. 5, 2017, 10:34 a.m.
On Dec. 1, 2017, Cursive's Such Blinding Stars for Starving Eyes (1997) and The Storms of Early Summer (1998) will each be reissued on the band's 15 Passenger ...
Posted Nov. 18, 2014, 12:01 p.m.
The Deluxe Edition remaster of Cursive's The Ugly Organ is now available for stream at the AV Club. The record, first released in 2003, is being reissued on 2xCD ...
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