w/Appleseed Cast, Putrecine
Fri April 18, Graceland, 6 pm, $10 (all ages).
Most modern emo is only slightly less boring than the Pope giving a three-hour mass. So what are you supposed to do if you're dramatic and wrought, but not full of crap--and the mainstream eem creeps are ruining sentiment for you and the world?
You call bullshit on everyone, including yourself. You recognize the self-provoked martyrism of emotional punk rock--even your own. You turn this repulsion inside out with a brilliant meta-record, a conceptual 12-act play of confession and atonement. You make Cursive's The Ugly Organ.
Helmed by Tim Kasher, whose crackled, shredded voice is the sound of pain, Cursive's fourth full-length begins with a passionate confessional of a prologue over deft stabs of drums (Clint Schnase), guitar (Ted Stevens, Matt Maginn on bass), cello (Gretta Cohn), and the debilitated, carnival-like sound of a dusty organ. Kasher lays it out from the start: "This is my body, this is the blood I found on my hands after I wrote this album." What follows seethes with immediacy, an album of self-aware self-involvement that avoids grotesque self-indulgence only because of its brazen honesty.
When I tell him I think The Ugly Organ is an indictment of both peers and self, Kasher confirms. "I think that's probably right, but it's also about the idea of that strife, and interviewers and people close to me asking me, 'Do you just purposely try to fuck shit up?' And that's just untrue."
Perhaps this is what he means when he sings, "They just want pain/they wanna hear, my deepest sins/the songs from the ugly organ," the "ugly organ" being his tyrannical heart. It's an overwrought sentiment, but blatantly, embarrassingly true. Cursive's melodramatic, poetic honesty is refreshing when held up against lyrics by other emotional fakers like Dashboard Confessional, who indict everyone but themselves. With The Ugly Organ, Cursive both kill and perpetuate the myth of the tortured musician.
"I'm not going to name names," says Kasher with a shy smile, "but I find the worst poetry when I flip through Spin or Rolling Stone, and they'll do little blurbs about new bands with a blurb of their lyrics. I assume they're an example of the bands' best lyrics, but I can't believe that some of this stuff is passing for emotion."