Tim Kasher – The Game of Monogamy

Rating: ★★½☆☆

It seems like Tim Kasher has been at it for years and years. His most renown projects include Cursive and The Good Life, but he finally wants the glory all to himself.  His first release under his own name, The Game of Monogamy, seems to work like much of his other projects, pulling auto-biographical references from his own life, laying them before the ears of the listener.

Oddly, “A Grown Man” begins with Tim’s statement: “I’m a grown man/I don’t know what I want,” which really puts the purpose of this entire album out in the open.  It seems that age hasn’t brought Tim too much clarity, though such difficulty has typically benefited his musical aspirations.  While he moves into brighter moments musically with “I’m Afraid I’m Gonna Die Here,” a song that uses a nice horn opening moment, the thematic element of struggling with self-worth once again dominates the lyrics.

It’s funny, but if you’ve been listening to Tim for years, as you probably should have been, it all seems like territory to easily visited time and time again.  The Game of Monogamy appears like a re-hash of a lot of his older songs, at least when it comes to the subject matter.  That being said, Tim’s storytelling never gets boring, despite the redundancy of ideas from album to album.  Keeping that in mind, the one thing that really lacks on this record, if you look through the lyrical homage to early works, is the music.  Even with The Good Life, Tim crafted these sweeping movements within his songs, mostly based upon the melody of his voice, but these new songs don’t seem to be as developed.  “Bad, Bad Dreams” has a nice horn arrangement, which seems to have become a favorite go-to move for Tim as of the last several years, but overall, the rest of the songs just doesn’t come off as elaborate as the work you would associate with him.  The guitar lines are just basic streaming, and the horns dominate a lot of the moments that used to seem intimate.

Of course, Tim Kasher always has a way to suck you back in with his openness, such as he does with “The Prodigal Husband.”  His memorable voice is able to carry the entire song, even with the light string (read: harp) work that softly dances in the background of the song.  Mid-song appears a nice little female accompaniment, which really gives a bit more depth to the song, making it one of the strongest pieces on this album.  Similarly, “Cold Love” is exactly the song you wanted Tim to write time and time again.  It’s got a nice little synthesizer in the background, and Tim’s voice changes pitch and tone, giving way to that heartache we all know he feels.  The man can still write a great track when he wants, and we’re all grateful for that.

Perhaps its old age, and perhaps its just that we’re all as jaded as Tim Kasher, but something about this record just really leaves you wanting more.  Usually his solo work relies upon his voice, with other instruments bringing the songs to life, but here, while much is the same, the horns and strings just don’t hold up to a guitar or throbbing electronic beat ; even his guitar seems absent throughout the entirety of The Game of Monogamy. While there are several great songs here, sadly, this is one Tim Kasher release, among the many I love, that I can’t whole-heartedly get behind.


Download: Tim Kasher – Cold Love [MP3]

New Music From Tim Kasher

I think we’ve made it pretty clear here at ATH that we have long been behind any and all music created by the indie great Tim Kasher.  With his huge catalog of material in Cursive and The Good Life, what’s not to like about the guy?  So after all this time Kasher has decided to put out his very first album of new material under his own name.  Below you can find a sneak peak at the new solo album, The Game of Monogomy, in the form of track “Cold Love”.  We’ll be the first in line when Kasher’s solo album hits stores on October 5th on Saddle Creek. (via)

[audio: https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/05-Cold-Love.mp3]

Download: Tim Kasher – Cold Love [MP3]

Cursive – Mama I’m Swollen

cursiveRating: ★★★★☆

Tim Kasher has always been a voice living on the darker side of lyrical content, filling his words with his own animosity, with the subject often turning to his own reflection.  Aptly titled, the new Cursive album, Mama I’m Swollen, is another album based on his own self-reflection, and, well, deprecation.

It takes a few seconds of ambient noise, thirty-four to be exact, before Cursive burst in with a fever known to most fans of the band.  The guitars cut through your ears with the sharpness of a polished knife, as Kasher sings ” don’t want to live in the now/don’t want to know what I know.” The sentiment seems to be that the man, himself, is unhappy with the way things have turned out.  Regardless, the ferocity of this song is a welcome opener.

Skip right ahead to the obvious single, “From the Hips,” which starts the opening minute with a gentle pace, pushed along by the guitar; its reminiscent of The Good Life, Kasher’s other focal point for musical expression.  That is until the drums kick in, carrying the song forward, with the remainder of the song revolving around the drums and Tim’s remarkable voice.  Happy Hollow horns close the song, a wonderful second track.

Then we find the angular guitar work of the band echoing in the dense hollows of the next few songs, as the sounds seems to bounce off your ears, just as Kasher’s voice rises and falls with that dark edge that only he can wield with such perfection.  It’s clear that he’s borrowed a bit from his other musical outing, but the darkness associated with Cursive albums clearly shines through the familiar elements. By this point, your four tracks into the latest musical excursion.

“Caveman” brings in a newer element to the fold, as it seems like a barroom stomper, filled out with the accompaniment of horns.  Here we find a man that seems content with where he’s at in his life.  On top of that, its clear by this point, the middle of the album, that Tim’s voice is back; its probably never sounded as strong as it does here. But, the sentiment is contradicted by the following song, as the gentle statement of “we’re going to hell, we’re going to hell” rings in listeners ears.  Lyrical content aside, this is one of the most beautiful songs on the albums, one where we once again see the passion of our pained hero.

From here on out, the fierceness of the songs diminishes, but there is clearly a brighter side to things.  Each of the following songs has a new attitude in the songwriting process.  While still holding tight to the stylistic leanings that put Saddle Creek Records on the map, there’s a new sense of clarity to the songs, as they seem less dense than previous efforts, which has made way for some of the stronger songs this side of the Cursive catalog.

Closing out the album is “What Have I Done.” Here, you find one of the better lyrics of the album, if not, the year, as Kasher sings “I spent the best years of my life, waiting on the best years of my life.”  It seems as if he’s looking back upon his whole life, or career, with a sense of regret, which is unfortunate, as this sets of songs are some of his best yet.  When he asks the audience “what have I done,” our response to Tim should be that he’s put together a complete album, full of masterful songs, including the grandiose closing statement at the end.  You’ve done great Tim.

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