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on 26 June 2003
I cannot recommend this album enough to anyone who is a fan of the nebraska scene at the moment. Saddle creek have given us so many amazing bands in the past few years and Cursive have pretty much risen with Bright Eyes to the top of the pile. The Ugly Organ is a perfect display of how good Cursive are. It veers from throat bursting, screaming laments (Red handed slight of hand) to emotional and heart wrenching melodies (The Recluse). Tim Kasher's vocals are more refined than on previous efforts such as Domestica, which highlights how far the band are progressing all the time. Gretta Cohn's Cello is a fine addition and is utilised far more than on the Burst and Bloom e.p. and often leads the songs melodies, which is juxtaposed extremely well with scratchy overdriven guitars (Butcher The Song). The album is close to being a concept album (dont let this put you off at all) about some kind of ugly organ that appears in practically every song and adds a wonderful sinister edge to the songs. Also lots of mentions of a guy called Harold...
If you like bands like Bright Eyes, Fugazi, or any of the bands on Saddle Creek, I would point you strongly in Cursive's direction. All their albums are great, but this one is THE benchmark
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on 28 March 2003
The Ugly Organ is an erratic journey through
disjointed guitar riffs, eerie chello playing, deranged organs! and it is all wrapped up with Tim Kasher's vocals which appear laid back yet highly urgent all at the same time?.... To describe this music I would call it Black alternative indie rock (if such a genre is possible!) Each song flows into the next without the slightest hint of awkwardness and it is hard to pick out a stand out track on this great album but if pushed my personal favorite would have to be Staying alive which features a full choir! to sum this album up in four words I would say...... Dark,Erratic,Original Masterpiece.
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on 17 August 2003
My older sister decided to put "A gentleman caller" on a mix tape for me. I received the tape, put it on, and that was the moment i believe i fell in love with cursive. Being a cellist myself, I am in awe of Gretta Cohn's playing - she's amazing. Tim Kasher's lyrics are nothing short of astounding, and his voice has the ability to mesmorise and amaze. I can really, really, really imagine this album on stage - as the concept is put forward. It has inspired me in many ways. I would like to conclude this undeliberately pretensious review with lyrics from "Art is Hard" ;
"Cursive is so cool"
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on 19 May 2003
I bought this because someone compared them to Fugazi (who are the band of my dreams!). That wasn't accurate (the lyrical content is in an entirely different ballpark), but Cursive are definitely a find. This album is a gem. Tim Kasher's lyrics are pure poetry, he has a wonderful way with words and a hilariously clever turn of phrase. Being emotional about emotions has never sounded so good. The music veers between dark orchestral moments and loud stabs of guitary mutha rock. The theatrical element and 'concept' of it lead me to imagine this being turned into a musical and that's no bad thing. Buy this today, if not sooner!
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on 15 August 2014
Remember hearing Sleight of Hand as a teenager and it still has the same impact on me now. One of those songs that is pure energy and an instant classic on first listen. Later on we get Driftwood which is a phenomenal piece of song-craft and the cool creepiness of The recluse. These tracks give the whole album a twisted grown-up fairytale feel. Bloody Murderer and Sierra are more typical of Cursive's take on the genre - looking backwards and forwards at the same time. Overall this is a really distinctive album and an accessible one too. No, it isn't as good as Domestica, but what is?
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on 12 July 2004
B00007KVNS Cursive - The Ugly Organ
The best post-hardcore music was undoubtedly made in the early 1990s, before the word "Emo" became bandied about like some contagious disease. Bands like Quicksand, Fugazi and Drive Like Jehu were far too busy making incendiary rock music with pained, howling lyrics to worry about which genre they fitted into. The music was certainly emotional, but barely-tempered rage was prevalent, rather than the melancholic dirge selling millions at the moment. People complained when the music scene was swamped by Nu-Metal, then Garage Rock. Now Emo is clearly the fashionable musical styling. Frustratingly Cursive are categorised as Emo - but the difference between them and their contemporaries is stark. How many bands feature a Cellist as a permanent member?
Cursive are a class apart from the current crop of Emo bands, indeed it is a travesty to compare them. Tim Kasher's raw, but passionate vocals are reminiscent of legends such as Cedric Bixler Zavala (ex-At The Drive-In) from post-Hardcore's halcyon days, and the often scintillating accompaniment, from what is surely one of the best rhythm sections in Rock music today, completes a perfect line-up. Thankfully Cursive manage not to sound derivative at any point. Song length varies greatly from the short, edgy 'Some Red Handed Sleight of Hand', to the spiralling, ten-minute-epic that is 'Staying Alive'. The final track is comfortably the finest on the album, building up to a chiming, pulsing crescendo before it lapses into a gospel refrain. Unabashedly bombastic, but nonetheless brilliant.
If 'Domestica' documented the demise of Kasher's marriage, 'The Ugly Organ' is the soundtrack to the aftermath. Self-consolation is a theme running through many of the songs, with Kasher assuring himself that "The worst is over" in more than one instance. The lush timbre of the cello adds an otherwise unattainable sophistication to Kasher's confessionals. Make no mistake though; 'The Ugly Organ' has a dark side too, and again the cellist must take the plaudits. 'Harold Weathervein' could so easily be the backing music to a horror movie with its schizophrenic strings; 'Butcher the Song' and 'Bloody Murderer' overflow with latent frustration. It is so refreshing to see a band reinvent their style by the addition of a rather unusual instrument, especially when the result is as good as this.
In fairness 'The Ugly Organ' is probably not Cursive's finest LP. In places the quality matches the standard set on 'The Storms of Early Summer: Semantics of Song': songs such as 'Sierra', 'Art Is Hard' and the songs I mentioned above all shine. However there are weaker songs and some unnecessary interludes detract from the album as a whole. 'A Gentleman Caller' misses the mark despite its highbrow Tennessee Williams referencing, and urgent rhythms, and the short instrumentals: 'The Ugly Organist' and 'Herald! Frankenstein' serve only to aggravate. However there are six or seven songs here that alone warrant the asking price, so dare to listen to something mildly diverting for a change.
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on 24 February 2004
anyone who is already a fan of cursive or owns any of their albums pre-burst and bloom, will know how this bands sound has vhanged with the addition of weird and wonderful noises as well as an improvement in vocals, this in my opinion is a change for good. On this album there is added sound of cello, and synths all over the place, with the last track blowing any music fans mind, some of the tracks are similar to others, but the main body of the album is amazing, if they wouldnt have developed they would surely have split up by now, but they will stay around for a while with this album. Go buy it if you like cursive, but even if you dont, you'll stll love this album.
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