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The Ugly Organ


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Album Review

Whereas 2000's Domestica explored the intense pain of Tim Kasher's divorce, The Ugly Organ is a tale of empty sex, overwrought melodrama, and metaphors of which the album's title is only the first. Kasher likes making you feel queasy, and Cursive backs him up with unpredictable instrumental turns. "Butcher the Song" could be about a lot of things, but it's definitely not happy, and its instrumentation lurches in stops and rushing starts like a drivetrain gone bad. "Art Is Hard" is much louder. "Keep turning out those hits! Till it's all the same old sh*t!" The clattering guitars shoot backward at Cursive's louder roots, but the knifing lyrics stab wildly at fans, the band, the industry — any target available. Kasher and company are similarly restless throughout The Ugly Organ, and that sentiment makes the album both rewarding and frustrating. They're capable of great beauty, particularly in the sure hand of cellist Gretta Cohn, who first appeared on the Burst and Bloom EP but is a true force here. She adds a soaring melody to "Driftwood: A Fairy Tale," making it sound like Spoon with a fuller lineup.

Customer Reviews

There is nothing ugly about this record. (Very long review.)

I bought this cd at a small record store in 2004. After just one listen, I knew this was one of the most beautiful and passionate records I would ever hear. As you're listening, new sounds are constantly being thrown to you, but you are puzzled. You continue to listen and recieve no answers until you have a pile of these things in your arms. It spells "Cursive." As I'm listening, it's hard to decide what really jumps out at you, because the entire time, everything is jumping. Everything is moving. "The Ugly Organist" begins slowly and quietly, so you're listening as sharply as you can. "Some Red-Handed Sleight of Hand" comes on next, and it is one of the most intriguing, powerful tracks on the record. The music is intense and the vocals are some of the best. "Art Is Hard" is one of the most popular tracks, for a reason. It has quiet, jazzy moments where he singing in a speaking voice, and then the music bursts into humorous and intelligent choruses. "The Recluse," probably one of my favorites, has amazing lyrics that are the main variable within the song. The music is soothing, and at the same, it's dark and perplexing. The next track, "Herald! Frankenstein" is very much just music. It sort of leaves you guessing, and with chills, when you hear the only words of the track- "Can't stop the monster ...". "Butcher the Song" starts off worse than it ends. It's a song you must hear all of to understand how amazing it is. "Why should I play the forguide to your love? I keep getting snubbed. What dumb luck." It's so enigmatic in a dark way. It's punk, truly. "I'm writing songs to entertain. But these people, they just want pain. They wanna hear my deepest sins." And he truly does explain on. The lyrics speak so much louder in this song than on almost any other track on the record. Track 7, "Driftwood: A Fairy Tale," is by far my, and so many other's, favorite song on this album. You hear the audio at the begining, and instruments I'm not even sure of, and then you hear "So he would he sulk and drink and mope and cross his arms and hope to die" and you wonder how that ties in with the Pinnochio audio at the begining, and it does. It is a twisted fairy tale all in itself about love and difference and passion and voyaging. It's truly about being unlike others. "She knew about those wooden boys ...". It's terribly sad and powerful at the same time. It's beautiful and a real story. "Still he walked on amongst the wells and the waves and screamed 'Liar! Liar! and his wooden body floated away. He just difted away. And now I wonder how I was made. My arms, my legs, my heart, my face, my name is Driftwood." "A Gentleman Caller" is a hard song to listen to after the story of Driftwood, because it's such a transition. It's hard to put my finger on the topic of the song, but one line I always remember is "He cries 'Baby, I've been drinking with some friends! Now how bout a little kiss?'". It makes the entire song more deep than it should be, and that's something I love about it. It's very complex in it's instruments and chording, but by 1:30, it's quiet and very pretty. The entire song takes a new turn. It's amazing to see. "Harold Weathervein" is another popular track, and I adore the, what sounds like, violin incorporated into the song. It's one of the most musically ingenius songs on the record, and most likely to be a sing-along. Also probably one of my favorites. "Bloody Muderer" is ... well, truly the creepiest song on The Ugly Organ. The last minute of the song is the most dramatic in its music and vocals, which actually shine. "Sierra" is another favorite of mine, being it's so personal. And I'm sure the singer is not Sierra, so it's sort of intriguing how well he tells this story. In his voice, he just feeds you the entire feeling of fear and questions. It's a beautiful song with a disturbing and amazing message. The last song, "Staying Alive," is long. But at the same time, you are so suprised when it's over. Some of my favorite vocals are on this track, and it's truly gorgeous.

Cursive's best effort to date

It's hard to really find anything wrong with this album. And there is so much right! It strikes that wonderfully intangible balance between lyrical poignancy and musical originality that for me really makes The Ugly Organ stand out. It's rare that an album comes along that actually delivers an emotionally charged listen like this one. This was my pick for best album of 2003. I really don't know how they're going to best this album. Art is hard after all!

you wont regret buying it

Are you tired of those dark bands who end up just screaming there heads off and you cant understand them? tired of them singing about the same thing?then CURSIVE is the way to go, they dont sing about the same thing,the singer screams a little but you actually understand him, and its a nice poetic type of dark and thats something you dont find in every album. So go to your local album/cd/wherever the hell you buy cd's store and get one now.


Formed: 1995 in Omaha, NE

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

As early as 1995, the original members of Cursive — Tim Kasher on guitar and vocals, Clint Schnase on drums, Matt Maginn on bass, and Stephen Pederson on guitar — began work on their newly christened project, experimenting with elements of indie rock and eclectic post-hardcore to fashion a unique sound. The Omaha, Nebraska-based four-piece came out of existing friendships and some of the members' previous work together in Slowdown Virginia, making the musical partnership a logical idea...
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