Cursive and Cloud Nothings w/ Criteria
Cursive/Cloud Nothings w/ Criteria
Doors 7pm. Show 8pm.
Cursive: Over the past two decades, Cursive has become known for writing smart, tightly woven concept albums where frontman Tim Kasher turns his unflinching gaze on specific, oftentimes challenging themes, and examines them with an incisively brutal honesty. 2000s Domestica dealt with divorce; 2003s The Ugly Organ tackled art, sex, and relationships; 2006s Happy Hollow skewered organized religion; 2009s Mama, Im Swollen grappled with the human condition and social morality; and 2012s I Am Gemini explored the battle between good and evil. But the bands remarkable eighth full-length, Vitriola, required a different approach -- one less rigidly themed and more responsive as the band struggles with existentialism veering towards nihilism and despair; the ways in which society, much like a writer, creates and destroys; and an oncoming dystopia that feels eerily near at hand.
Cursive has naturally developed a pattern of releasing new music every three years, creating records not out of obligation, but need, with the mindset that each record could potentially be their last. 2015 came and went, however, and the band remained silent for their longest period to date. But the members of Cursive have remained busy with solo records, a movie (the Kasher-penned and directed No Resolution), and running businesses (the band collectively owns and operates hometown Omahas mainstay bar/venue, OLeavers). The band even launched their own label, 15 Passenger, through which theyre steadily reissuing their remastered back catalogue, as well as new albums by Kasher, Campdogzz, and David Bazan and Sean Lane. And like many others, the band members have been caught up in the inescapable state of confusion and instability that plagues their home country, and seems to grow more chaotic with each passing day.
Which brings us to 2018 and Vitriola. For the first time since Happy Hollow, the album reunites Kasher, guitarist/singer Ted Stevens and bassist Matt Maginn with founding drummer Clint Schnase, as well as co-producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, M. Ward, Jenny Lewis) at ARC Studios in Omaha. Theyre joined by Patrick Newbery on keys (whos been a full-time member for years) and touring mainstay Megan Siebe on cello. Schnase and Maginn are in rare form, picking up right where they left off with a rhythmic lockstep of viscera-vibrating bass and toms, providing a foundation for Kasher and Stevens intertwining guitars and Newbery and Siebes cinematic flourishes. The album runs the sonic gamut between rich, resonant melodicism, Hitchcockian anxiety, and explosive catharsis -- and no Cursive album would be complete without scream-along melodies and lyrics that, upon reflection, make for unlikely anthems.
Theres a palpable unease that wells beneath Vitriolas simmering requiems and fist-shakers. Fiery opener Free To Be or Not To Be You and Me reflects the albums core: a search for meaning that keeps coming up empty, and finding the will to keep going despite the fear of a dark future. The album directs frustration and anger at not only modern society and the universe at large, but also inward towards ourselves. On Under the Rainbow, disquiet boils into rage that indicts the complacency of the privileged classes; Ghost Writer has a catchy pulse that belies Kasher chastising himself for writing about writing; and Noble Soldier/Dystopian Lament is a haunting look at potential societal collapse that provides little in the way of hope but balances beauty and horror on the head of a pin.
Vitriola raises a stark question: is this it? Is everything simply broken, leaving us hopeless and nihilistic? Maybe not. There can be reassurance in commiseration, and the album is deeply relatable: Cursive may not be offering the answers, but there is hope in knowing you're not alone in the chaos.
Cloud Nothings: For a band that sticks to its impulses instead of trends, Cloud Nothings accumulates critical praise and loyal fans with the type of ease modern rock bands can only dream of. Thats because the Cleveland four-piece is the byproduct of Dylan Baldi, a frontman whose melodic intuition and musical fervor are as innate as they are impressive. Baldis early indie rock songs welcome pop warmly without sounding trite. His later alt-rock hooks are too busy criss-crossing guitar lines to overthink things. The urgency he writes with comes across in the vividness of his guitar. Since expanding his solo project into a proper band, Baldi has positioned Cloud Nothings as the torchbearers of the frenetic, visceral, and thundering rock of bands like The Wipers and Drive Like Jehu. Its all alternating resolves and anticipated breakdowns. And live, its near impossible to dispute talent that palpable. Looking back, it makes sense how Cloud Nothings got here. At the age of 18, Baldi gained attention after a string of lo-fi songs he recorded in the comfort of his basement began circulating online. It landed him a spot on a buzzed-about show in Brooklyn where, in turn, he caught the eyes of Carpark. His music began its upward ascent immediately. In 2010, Carpark released Turning On, a retrospective combo of the bands debut EP and various 7 singles. Cloud Nothings unveiled their self-titled LP the following year, a record that showcased how crisp Baldis hooks sound when given proper studio time. But what followed in 2012, their breakthrough LP Attack on Memory, paved a new path for the band. The album saw Baldi throw himself into his guitar while collaborating with the rest of his touring banddrummer Jayson Gerycz, bassist TJ Duke, and guitarist Joe Boyerto create an aggressive, unrelenting, and throat-scratching album that captured not just their sound, but their collective raw energy. Cloud Nothings fleshed out that sound further on 2014s Here and Nowhere Else, this time as a trio after Boyers departure. Even when Baldi, in a decision to feed his quiet fondness for pop, used 2017s Life Without Sound to showcase his melodic inclinations, he showed a continued growth in his songwriting skills. Cloud Nothings fold all of that forward momentum into their newest record, Last Building Burning. Just over half an hour in length, the album is a singular listen designed to mirror the experience of their live shows. Gerycz and Duke propel the rhythm section with their fastest speed to date. Baldi and guitarist Chris Brown reshape converging guitar parts into double-edged swords, reaching beyond power chords for instantly pleasing riffs that are urgent in delivery. Though the record touches on various sounds of the bands pastAnother Way Of Life digs its toes into the harmonies of Life Without Sound and On An Edge recalls the blistering peaks of Here and Nowhere Elseit showcases how untouchable the band has become. Cloud Nothings are a permanent staple of what rock music should sound like: gritty, caustic, and tireless. In that, almost a decade into their career, Cloud Nothings have become a reference point for budding rock acts while perpetually looking to outdo themselves as they go.
Criteria: Criteria today announced their first new album in nearly a decade and a half, aptly titled Years. The new album will be released on January 17, 2020 via 15 Passenger, a label owned and operated by singer, Stephen Pedersens old bandmates in Cursive. Today they premiered explosive anthemic lead single Agitate Resuscitate as well as a comical short film featuring a dual over the albums release between singer Stephen Pedersen and Tim Kasher of Cursive via Brooklyn Vegan. The songs syncopated post-hardcore groove and shout along lyrics set the perfect tone for the rest of the record melding their hallmark anthemic sound with new hints of prog, post-punk and just a touch of metal. Listen now via Brooklyn Vegan HERE. Years is available for pre-order HERE.
Criteria has announced a string of winter dates supporting Cursive and Cloud Nothings which will cover much of the west coast beginning January 16th in Denver, CO and includes a January 26th show at Los Angeles Teragram Ballroom. See all the dates listed below.
Criterias Years has been in the making for quite some time. No joke, like a really long time. But the album's delay seems to be a badge of pride for the group, one that underscores the relentlessness of their collective vision to see it happen some fifteen years after the release of their sophomore LP When We Break (Saddle Creek). The drums were tracked at Omaha's ARC studios in 2014 and eventually the guitars and vocals were finished in Pedersen's basement studio. Criterias own A.J. Mogis wore the hats of both bass player and producer/recording/mixing engineer. His production credits include Monsters of Folk, Fake Problems, Small Brown Bike, The Get Up Kids, Planes Mistaken for Stars, and Cursive. On Years, Mogis and Pedersen along with guitarist Aaron Druery and drummer Mike Sweeney have once again set the bar very high for self-produced rock albums. It has a sound that conjures the likes of both Quicksand and Built to Spill, with it's high energy riffs/grooves under the catchy, melody-forward vocal lines.
For the uninitiated, the band was formed by former Cursive guitarist Stephen Pedersen in 2003 after he moved back to his hometown of Omaha following his graduation from Duke University and the subsequent dissolution of his beloved North Carolina-based math rock act, The White Octave. After releasing their debut En Garde that same year on Initial Records, Criteria signed to Saddle Creek Records and put out When We Break in 2005. In support of the album, the act toured with groups like Jimmy Eat World, Minus The Bear, Cursive and Poison the Well, and converted countless fans to their anthemic brand of post-hardcore.
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