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Cursive - Happy Hollow

Released on Saddle Creek Records, 8/22/06

The story of Cursive is one of small town boys struggling to formulate an artistic alliance amid the limited opportunities for success in entertainment available in the vast expanse of the mid-west. However, while in the good old days we relied on the coastal meccas to provide us with the cultural excitement and danger of sophisticates such as Aerosmith, Blondie and Guns N Roses, we'd be remiss if we didn't acknowledge that there's lots to be found in the dark recesses of middle America.

If Detroit can give us Iggy, Minneapolis The Replacements and Athens REM there's more to these 50 states than those with 212 and 310 area codes. After all, the biggest musical movement of the last twenty-five years came out of Seattle of all places

Cursive began their work over ten years ago in Omaha, NE after regrouping with pals from prior musical experiment Slowdown Virginia. The four-piece gelled quickly and the sound they produced was born of the frustrations of small town life -- jagged, intense and thundering it commanded one’s attention. Singer Tim Kasher's vocals exploded with power.

From '95 to '99 the group debuted a 7" on local indie label Saddle Creek, moved to Crank! for an LP release and after a couple of more releases for both settled on Saddle Creek for a permanent home. SC was where they met fellow label mate Connor Orbst and a musical version of wife swapping resulted in the band being put on hold while Commander Venus and Bright Eyes got all the attention.

A regrouping of sorts occurred in 2000 and over the next few years the group released three increasingly ambitious and successful albums, with ‘03's Ugly Organ cementing Cursive's status as introspectful indie rockers with substantial, if polite, attitude. Blender named it one of the best of the year.

Happy Hollow starts off with a bang with “Opening The Hymnal/Babies”, which declares “welcome all, to our small town”. Distorted vocals mesh with whirling organ and bells in an ambitious move reminiscent of, dare we say, Sgt. Peppers. Shifting tempos propel a lovely melody, which ends abruptly as if the band couldn't wait to get to track two, the driving “Dorothy At Forty”. Dorothy resurfaces a few songs later with the swaggering “Dorothy Dreams of Tornados”, which showcases a new addition to the Cursive repertoire: horns!

Trumpets blare and the band reaches for Killers territory declaring “This city's killing us”. Beatlesque production mixes with Stones like attitudes and Quicksand like heft while still clinging to the small town indie ethos that is the band's signature. At 45 minutes the album gets its point across with little filler and makes for a completely satisfying listen.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars