Exposé Online banner

Cursive — The Ugly Organ
(Saddle Creek LBJ-51, 2003, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2004-09-01

The Ugly Organ Cover artLast year many in the prog community embraced The Mars Volta and their infusion of prog ideas (and excesses) into alternative/indie American rock. Cursive is another band making the same kinds of moves, though with vastly different results. Like De-Loused in the Comatorium, The Ugly Organ runs its tracks together and comprises a concept, at least loosely, rather than a set of individual songs. But where De-Loused is slickly produced and deliberately obscure, Organ is less flashy and more viscerally intense, like John Lennon’s primal screaming grafted onto dissonant arty post-punk. Leader Tim Kasher often sings like a man possessed, and it’s a wonder he can avoid blowing out his vocal chords the way he screams. The music behind him is complex in subtle ways (though subtlety is an odd word to use with music that gets as loud as Cursive), relying on details of shading and arrangement rather than flurries of notes. Aside from the oblique and unruly songwriting, the full-time presence of a cello (in both melodic and rhythmic roles) helps set the band apart from other post-Nirvana purveyors of squalling guitar pop. The lyrics, in addition to conveying some raw emotions, rely on clever puns and literary allusions, actually acquiring depth when read in the booklet. Kasher obviously has some issues to work out, and we can feel lucky he chooses to do so in public with albums like this rather than in the privacy of a therapist’s office.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 30, 2003 releases

Related artist(s): Cursive

Latest news

2018-01-05
Ray Thomas RIP – On Thursday, 4 January 2017, the world lost Ray Thomas, founding member of the Moody Blues. Thomas sang and played flute, and was responsible for writing a number of the band's most memorable songs. He was 76. » Read more

2017-12-22
Roswell Rudd RIP – Jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd, one of the distinctive players of his instrument in many strains of music, has died at the age of 82. With a career stretching back to the early 60s and over a hundred recordings featuring his playing, he leaves behind a substantial legacy. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. » Read more

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

The Black Noodle Project - And Life Goes On... – I’m not above enjoying a good clone band. I quite enjoy a lot of them. And Black Noodle Project may not necessarily be a complete Pink Floyd clone, but in the world of clonedom, some of these songs...  (2005) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues