Out & About
I've never been to nebraska--I don't think I have anyway--but the place gives me the creeps. Not, as you may have guessed, because I have a fear of small towns or flat land or multi-grain breads, but because all the bands I know from there scare the shit out of me.
The first to do it was Bright Eyes, a project master-minded by a young guy called Conor Oberst. I remember hearing the name when his first record came out in 1998; it got a lot of attention because he was only like 16 when he made it. But I didn't actually hear his music until the handsome artwork on the cover of Every Day and Every Night, his 1999 EP, enticed me into giving it a listen. I liked what I heard--in particular the way he dressed up what could have been the way-lame daydreams of a post-pubescent Elliott Smith fan in slide guitar and chimes--but was a little spooked by how into it he was. Here was a kid just out of high school ranting about being drunk before sunrise and dying in his lover's arms. That hysteria plagued Fevers & Mirrors, his celebrated full-length follow-up, and pretty much turned me off Oberst for the present: passion = good; forced, open-veined melodrama = iffy.
So it was with trepidation that I approached Cursive, another of Omaha's bleeding hearts and a Saddle Creek Records labelmate of Oberst's. As with Bright Eyes, I'd been aware of the band for a while--mostly via the overheated emo kids who used to leave their shit behind at the college radio station--but hadn't given them a chance until the recent Cursive's Domestica (yeah, that's the real title). Guess I was intrigued by the concept: Singer-guitarist Tim Kasher gets married, gets divorced, writes album (slim pickings, I know, but beats "gets girlfriend, gets broken up with, writes album"). Unfortunately, the band's similarly overwrought indie rock isn't even as notable as Oberst's maudlin muck. A part of me appreciates Kasher's reach and his admirable (and seemingly very sincere) attempt to bury the past with this stuff, but I can hardly get through the first thing he utters without wondering when his own heavy hand's gonna crush him: "The night has fallen down the staircase/And I, for one, have felt its bruises."Cursive: I've never been to Nebraska--I don't think I have, anyway--but the place gives me the creeps. Not, as you may have guessed, because I have a fear of small towns or flat land or multi-grain breads, but because all the bands I know from there scare the shit out of me.It's not that these kids choose to write serious songs about serious topics that makes me queasy; it's how one-dimensionally they do it. I mean, didn't word reach Omaha that darkness without light is just absence?
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