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The Good Life

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Biography

Tim Kasher spent the end of the 1990s making powerful and somewhat underrated music as the lead singer and guitarist for the Omaha-based post-rock quartet Cursive, but the band never really allowed him to explore any of his softer ideas and more personal sentiments. For years, the always inventive songwriter had been setting his mellower ideas aside, occasionally playing them at local coffeehouse shows or in the company of friends, but never sharing them with a very wide audience. In 2000 all that changed, and while a newly re-formed Cursive was turning more heads than ever, Kasher went about putting together another band that would not serve as merely a "side project," but instead a second and equally effective nationally touring act that focused on his self-described "softer rock" creations.

He named the group the Good Life, which actually doubles as the motto of his home state of Nebraska and is a fittingly ironic take on the noticeably downtrodden musical creations of the band. The idea was always to create a solid lineup, but for his first recording, 2000's Novena on a Nocturn, Kasher settled for a revolving crew of talented friends and acquaintances. The resulting disc, which features such notable contributors as Cursive bandmate Clint Schnase on drums, the Faint's Todd Baechle on keyboards, and producers Mike and A.J. Mogis on a variety of instruments, was soon released on San Diego's Better Looking Records to rave reviews. Drawing comparisons to the Cure, Morrissey, Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark, and a slew of other synth-based '80s acts, Novena on a Nocturn was an intense emotional record that focused on the songwriter's recent divorce and painful memories, especially on tracks like the anguished "What We Fall for When We're Already Down" and the astonishingly personal "The Competition." Filled with drum machine-based rhythms, subtle keyboards, and Kasher's stark vocals, the disc was as impressive as it was depressing, and plenty of folks took notice.

With a growing fan base and constantly expanding arsenal of quality material, the Good Life was ready to hit the road, but not before an official lineup was solidified. Kasher beat the odds and once again recruited an impressive group of friends — drummer Roger Lewis, sometimes Bright Eyes flutist Jiha Lee, Desaparecidios bassist Landon Hedges, and keyboardist Mike Heim — establishing for himself an official band with more than enough talent to get things done. Subsequent touring with high-profile acts like the Jealous Sound and even Superchunk only built upon the group's reputation and led them to return to the studio, where they began work on a new record in late 2001. As the year ended and Kasher's Cursive continued to expand their popularity, the Good Life found itself a reputable new home on Omaha's Saddle Creek Records. The second LP was completed in October 2001 and the group's anticipated sophomore album, Black Out, landed in stores in early March 2002. Two years later, the EP Lovers Need Lawyers preceded the release of the narrative full-length Album of the Year, and in 2007 the relatively stripped-down Help Wanted Nights appeared, with the band settling into the lineup of Kasher, Lewis, Stefanie Drootin, and Ryan Fox, the latter two both multi-instrumentalists and prior collaborators.

After touring in support of the album, Kasher released a record with Cursive, Mama, I'm Swollen, in 2009 and a solo album titled The Game of Monogamy in 2010, while still performing with the Good Life. Meanwhile, Lewis played with Nebraska bands Conduits and Oquoa, Drootin-Senseney started a family and the band Big Harp with her husband and made two albums, and Fox worked on his own material, recorded with Jake Bellows, and started the label Majestic Litter. Kasher released Bigamy: More Songs from the Monogamy Sessions in 2011, another Cursive album, I Am Gemini, in 2012, and the solo album Adult Film in 2013. That year, he also began writing new material for the Good Life for the first time in several years. Constructed as a full-band project with other members joining in the writing in 2014, the more rock-defined Everybody's Coming Down was recorded in early 2015 and released that summer, again with Saddle Creek. ~ Peter J. D'Angelo, Rovi