Cursive is the longtime trio of Tim Kasher (vocals, guitar), Matt Maginn (bass), and Ted Stevens (guitar, vocals), with Patrick Newbery (keys) and Cully Symington (drums). I Am Gemini (out February 21, 2012 via Saddle Creek), the band’s seventh LP, is the follow-up to 2009’s critically praised Mama, I’m Swollen, which caught the attention of publications including Alternative Press, Billboard, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and Time Out New York, among others, and earned the band their network television debut on The Late Show with David Letterman. Cursive has released six full-length albums – including the heralded Cursive’s Domestica (2000), The Ugly Organ (2003), and Happy Hollow (2006) – two EPs, a disc of rarities, and numerous singles since the band’s 1995 inception.
The band is also known for their vital, magnetic live show, earning rave reviews from outlets including the Cleveland Scene’s C-Note music blog (”[Tim Kasher’s] effect on the crowd was chilling last night…Cursive was focused and on-spot, composed and gripping”), Nuvo Weekly (“…the five-piece slashed through a near-perfect set of songs from their last nine years of albums”), and the Orlando Sentinel’s Soundboard blog (“…the band still knows how to rock on stage…[Cursive] thrashed away with an abandon that heightened the passion of Kasher’s dense, emotionally charged wordplay.”).
I Am Gemini is the surreal and powerful musical tale of Cassius and Pollock, twin brothers separated at birth. One good and one evil, their unexpected reunion in a house that is not a home ignites a classic struggle for the soul, played out with a cast of supporting characters that includes a chorus of angels and devils, and twin sisters conjoined at the head.
Recorded in the summer/fall of 2011 at Omaha, NE’s ARC Studios and mixed at Red Room in Seattle, WA with producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Minus The Bear, Isis), I Am Gemini marks the first time front man Tim Kasher, holding the completed story already in mind, wrote album lyrics in a linear fashion, in order, from song 1 to song 13. The result is thirteen singularly cohesive song chapters that blend effortlessly into one unique narrative. The moody and playfully sinister I Am Gemini is Cursive’s musically heaviest in years, with alternately muscular and angular guitars, pounding drums and driving bass. From the eerie introductory sounds of epic barnstormer “This House Alive” and the irresistibly catchy, insistent “The Sun and Moon”, to the searing “Double Dead” and the split personality prog-pop of “Twin Dragon/Hello Skeleton”, to the roaring, mournful closing track “Eulogy for No Name”, the album is a dynamic, mind-bending, and imaginative ride.
Cymbals Eat Guitars
The sweat's the first thing everyone notices. It's hard not to, as salty trails drip from the pores of Joseph D'Agostino, the yelping, riff-raking frontman of Cymbals Eat Guitars.
Here's why he can't seem to stay dry: Pitchfork's 'Best New Music' tagplastered across a rave review of Cymbals' self-released debut, Why There Are Mountains, six months before its official releasewas just the beginning of the band's rise to notoriety. A calling card to toss around from time to time, sure, but not something they were about to rest their entire record on.
'We had no fucking clue what we were doing in those first few months,' admits D'Agostino, quite matter-of-factly.
'There was just this giant rush to keep up with hype that's beyond us,' adds drummer Matthew Miller, who co-founded the group in 2007, the year they found their sound through elaborate demos with the Wrens' Charles Bissel. Demoes that were developed even further during proper studio sessions with Kyle 'Slick' Johnson (Modest Mouse, The Hives). Like many other early adopters, Johnson discovered CEG on New York's Lower East Side circuit, playing the kind of caustic set that's earned the attention of ABC News, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and the Pitchforkpeople, who continue to support the group's every move. That includes a CMJ roundup with the following pull quote: 'D'Agostino was sweating profusely by the end of the first song, and spent the rest of the set contorting violently and playing his guitar like it was trying to eat him...Cymbals weren't just loud, they sounded monumental.'
Hype-raking live reviews aside, there's this important detail to consider: Why There Are Mountains is an actual album in an era of diminishing downloads an attention spans, a 'grower' that dishes out simple pleasures with every spin. Meaning everything from shades of shoegaze (the patient, feedback-bathed passages of 'Share') to subtle Motown nods (the buoyant bass lines of 'Cold Spring,' the breezy horns of 'Indiana'). Not to mention pure, unadulterated chaos, as embraced in the gate-crashing 'And the Hazy Sea,' the tension-building 'Like Blood Does,' and the throat-singeing denouement of 'Wind Phoenix.'
As for what's next, well, they're figuring that out one track at a time, as D'Agostino's carefully-cultivated cuts are complemented by Miller's Wire-y rhythms, the wobbly low-end of bassist Matthew Whipple, and the Technicolor textures of keyboardist Brian Hamilton.
'I've played in a lot of punky bands where no one cared about the final productabout the actual craft of songwritingand that was always very frustrating to me,' explains Whipple. 'I was always the guy glaring at someone else for not getting a part right.'
Not here. As D'Agostino adds, 'A song needs to raise the hairs on my neck at least three or four times before I'm happy with it. What's the point otherwise That's the whole thrill of playing and why we're doing this in the first place.'
'It's pretty simple,' says Miller. 'If something doesn't sound right, we're not gonna play it.'
Conduits, an Omaha band consisting of members of The Good Life, Eagle Seagull, Son Ambulance, Neva Dinova, Cursive, and The Golden Age, was formed in late 2009. Built from an equal love of drone, shoegaze, post rock, early synth, and the 1970's, their sound exists in a world bigger than the sum of its parts: chiming guitars, steady drum beats, analog synths, proggy basslines, and beautiful female vocals that are strong enough to not get lost in the swirling soundscapes.
Though they hail from a town famous for producing singer-songwriters, Conduits' music wouldn't feel right played on an acoustic guitar. These guys know that a perfectly placed drum hit, a thunderous synth bass crescendo, or a squalling guitar can sometimes be just as crushing as any lyric or chord progression. They draw as much from Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine as they do from Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin, and probably land somewhere in the middle. Their live shows have been described as mesmerizing, an often continuous flow of music that transfixes the audience until the last drum beat, feedback loop, or final vocal collapse.