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Cursive - Happy Hollow (Cover Artwork)

Cursive

Cursive: Happy HollowHappy Hollow (2006)
Saddle Creek Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: indie_is_better_than_punkindie_is_better_than
(others by this writer | submit your own)

The 3 years between 2003's The Ugly Organ and Happy Hollow were a time of doubt for Cursive fans. After wrapping up a tour in support of The Ugly Organ, the band began a much-needed hiatus. Lead vocalist and songwriter Tim Kasher's folk-rock side project the Good Life became his top priority, and hi.
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The 3 years between 2003's The Ugly Organ and Happy Hollow were a time of doubt for Cursive fans. After wrapping up a tour in support of The Ugly Organ, the band began a much-needed hiatus. Lead vocalist and songwriter Tim Kasher's folk-rock side project the Good Life became his top priority, and his love for the group led to open contemplation of a Cursive break-up.

The initial worries only increased when the Good Life released its widely acclaimed Album of the Year (it was) in 2004, and Kasher told an interviewer that he had no immediate plans to continue on with Cursive. Shortly thereafter, internal changes in the band led to a split with cellist Greta Cohn, leaving fans doubtful about the band's future. Even if it were to reform, many thought, Cursive surely would not be able to return to the form displayed on previous albums.

The band, however, has returned with Happy Hollow and, surprisingly, not much has changed. In fact, the only major difference in its sound is the addition of a horn section. This was a welcome change, as horns were used with great success on "A Gentleman Caller," The Ugly Organ's most exciting tune. Here, they are used effectively and consistently on almost every track, setting Cursive apart from the plethora of recent indie bands with under-worked horn players (see: Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos).

Conceptually, the album is Cursive's most accomplished to date. The songs follow a storyline filled with Christian themes and tales of shattered American dreams, set in the fictional town of Happy Hollow. Kasher's alienation with Christianity is established in the opening tracks and built upon quite seamlessly throughout the album. "Big Bang," for instance, sees him mocking those who deny scientific proof in favor of unsubstantiated theories like intelligent design. Raucous lyrics and arguably the best horn work on the entire album combine to create one of many electrifying songs on Happy Hollow.

Other high points include "Bad Sects," a criticism of the Christian rejection of homosexuality, "Dorothy Dreams of Tornadoes," and "Bad Science." The closing track, "Hymns for the Heathen," is among the album's best as well, which is shocking as it literally lists off the themes of the 13 songs before it ("First hymn, the son of god complex / Second hymn, the prodigal damsel / Third hymn, the tree stump of knowledge...").

The true thematic summary of the album, however, comes in the penultimate anthem, "Rise Up! Rise Up!." The song, yet another scathing attack on the Christian religion, shows off some of the most heartfelt lyrics Kasher has ever written: "I wasted half of my life on the thought that I'd live foreverâ?¦So rise up! Rise up! Live a full life! â??Cause when it's over it's done" he screams, echoing the thoughts of many members of the growing anti-Christian movement in American indie/punk music.

Despite the inclusion of several of the best songs in Cursive's extensive catalogue, the true selling point of this album is that it contains nearly no filler. In fact, the most lethargic and uninspired song on the album is probably its first single: "Dorothy at Forty," which is by no means bad. The record, from start to finish, never strays from its concept and keeps its listeners continually captivated. Apparently those three years off were a good thing, because Happy Hollow is Cursive's most complete work to date and arguably its best. At this point, it has to be pretty high in the running for album of the year.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Against Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Clash - London CallingOperation Ivy - Operation IvyThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldCursive - The Ugly OrganAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitRefused - The Shape of Punk to ComeAgainst Me! - Searching For A Former ClarityAgainst Me! - As The Eternal Cowboy

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Keithy_19 (March 22, 2009)

I'm a Christian and I'm pretty steadfast in my beliefs, though I do think science and religion often can go hand in hand if one is able to look beyond one ideology.

With that being said, I love Cursive and I must say the same for this record.There's something so personal, yet universal regarding lyrics that focus on God and religion.

someone-yeah (November 15, 2007)

wow, I couldn't stand The Ugly Organ but I love this album

TheMike (September 9, 2007)

I can't get enough of this album. I like it better than The Ugly Organ myself, but they're very different. It doesn't have the same melodic tendencies the predecessor did, but its strengths lie in other areas. And overall, it sounds more solid to me.

Kursk (January 26, 2007)

This album blows away The Ugly Organ once you all can finish groveling at that record's feet and realize that. Tied for 1st for album of the year for me (with Ryan's Hope)

Tarem (October 14, 2006)

I don't know why everyone seems to think Tim hates religion. I don't know if he even realizes it but Aetheism IS a religion. It takes a strong stance on something that cannot be proven. That is the definition of religion. It takes Faith to believe that there IS nothing out there.

Cos (August 28, 2006)

I'm a Mac/iTunes user, and I just bought this. I can't get it to come up on my iTunes. The computer only recognizes the mp3 sampler (which is pretty cool, by the way).

any help would be appreciated.
--Cos

Rowwwley (August 26, 2006)

supposed to be a 3

Rowwwley (August 26, 2006)

Really good CD, I can't say I like it as much as Domestica, but I can't say I'm dissapointed at all with it either. Solid effort.

Fuzzy (August 25, 2006)

if you visit this site, obviously you aware of them.
I wouldn't say this is true. We have people commenting all the time that they just picked up Weakerthans CDs, who have been making more waves in the Punk community for longer than Cursive. Also, being aware of a band doesn't make them aware of their sound. I have a billion bands on my mind right now that I need to listen to, but I don't really know exactly what they sound like, rather just that "they are good."

with that in mind, if you haven't checked them out by now you probably aren't going to.
I don't understand this at all. I guess this hinges on the assumption that all .Org readers have heard or heard of Cursive before, but even then a band can always write that special album that turns the heads of those that dislike them. I can't stand anything the Get Up Kids ever did until On A Wire, which is still the only album I'll listen to by them, but it was their second to last album.

All this to say: a music review should almost always give a description of what the sound is. Words to describe Cursive include: angular, post-hardcore, wailing, melancholic, angry, etc.

jhals42 (August 25, 2006)

Cursive rocks balls, if you dont think so you should go check out panic at the disco!

joeg (August 24, 2006)

don't get me wrong. it was a well written review. i just found it odd that a review of a record did everything but review the actual sound, assuming only those completely familiar with the band are reading the review. that's just laziness. don't assume who is or who isn't reading your review because you're missing the opportunity to turn people onto the band who may not know about them or who may have missed them in the past, like me.

indie_is_better_than_punk (August 24, 2006)

if you visit this site, obviously you aware of them.

with that in mind, if you haven't checked them out by now you probably aren't going to.

however, i did write this for my college newspaper primarily so maybe i could have described their sound a little more.

Anonymous (August 24, 2006)

big bang is good,
the rest of this isn't.

ugly organ and domestica even with filler songs top this.

joeg (August 24, 2006)

I've never heard a cursive song so for me, the review was bad. Try to keep that in mind next time you write a review, the people reading it may not have a clue about this band.

fixedfrequencies (August 24, 2006)

*domestica

fixedfrequencies (August 24, 2006)

The review wasnt exactly "bad" i felt it was pretty good for people already familiar with cursive, but for new listeners it was a little vague. Anyway, this album is killer and is a stronger album then Ugly Organ. More of a Domestic vibe, Im diggin it.

indie_is_better_than_punk (August 23, 2006)

"score is for the review"

A zero:? Harsh man. Harsh

indie_is_better_than_punk (August 23, 2006)

last comment was me

Anonymous (August 23, 2006)

"The band, however, has returned with Happy Hollow and, surprisingly, not much has changed. In fact, the only major difference in its sound is the addition of a horn section."

"What? There is soo much difference. This is not Ugly Organ Horns."

Well alot of people were (myself included) were kind of worried that Tim would bring the Good Life sound into Cursive a little. This rocks just as hard as any Cursive album ever has. That was my point.

"Also if there is a slow lethargic song that would count as filler it's So-So Gigolo. Dorothy is pretty upbeat and aggressive."

So-So Gigalo is my second least favorite song on the album, but I just really don't like Dorthy at Forty

"I think way to many people are going to intepret this album as Tim ripping on religion, but a large part of it is a story about a small town and religion plays a big part in small town life."

.......and how religion has a negatve effect on small town life.

iconoclast (August 23, 2006)

amazing fucking album.

pitchfork's review of this is so retarded.

steveman (August 23, 2006)

Superdude!

Anonymous (August 23, 2006)

score is for the review

awkward (August 23, 2006)

haha, i'm so glad they made an album christian people have a hard time listening to. mad props.

Deadpan (August 23, 2006)

No matter how good this band is, they'll still always be ugly, ugly bastards.

Saying that though, who cares? This album alone merits mass amounts of no-questions-asked oral sex on the band's part. It's fucking ace.

shanholtzer (August 23, 2006)

just downloaded this, hopefully its good.

Anonymous (August 23, 2006)

pUNkEd !

SilentStorms (August 23, 2006)

Maybe it's just me, but we should probably abolish religion if we wish to advance as a humanistic culture. Onslaught ensues ... or does it? I dunno ... but I'm salivating in anticipation of this release. If this tops Domestica ... well, I don't even know what to say. Please top Domestica!

kenjamin (August 22, 2006)

2. I found that another majoe addition to its sound was that there were different songs.

hahaha holy shit

superdude (August 22, 2006)

This review was pretty good, but:

1. Isn't it late to have a band do a soundtrack for some old Johnny Depp movie?

2. I found that another majoe addition to its sound was that there were different songs.

OverDefined (August 22, 2006)

Love it so much already. The crazy horn shit is so bad ass. He's even improved as a singer. He's never sounded so comfortable and confident.

piratasmuertas (August 22, 2006)

The Burst and Bloom EP blows "organ" outta the water. Get that...

And yes, domestica is a requirement. I think that is the album that defined Tim as a songwriter. The rest has been building off of that.

TheDude (August 22, 2006)

p.s. i think if they would have put the songs from the burst and bloom ep together with the good songs from the ugly organ they would have had a stellar album. burst and bloom is some of the best cursive tracks ever written. god i love this band.

TheDude (August 22, 2006)

i was completely surprised at the complete turnaround this band has made. domestica is one of my favorite albums of all time and i thought that the ugly organ was a step down from that with too many filler tracks. however, happy hollow has completely and utterly put my faith back into this band. i haven't even gotten to the second half of this album just because the first half slays so hard. by far cursive's best work to date, even beating out domestica. the songs sound amazing live as well.

shot_in_the_dark (August 22, 2006)

forgive me for attempting to contribute to the demise of a great songwriter, but along with dropping his drinking habit he seems to have dropped a good portion of his passion. i miss the intoxicated, angstfully harsh tim kasher. good album, but nothing to domestica or ugly organ.

firestarterkaraoke (August 22, 2006)

i really like this album, it's no "Ugly Organ" however it's still awesome

FeelingJaded (August 22, 2006)

I think this album lacks the dark realtionship theme that defines the Ugly Organ and Domestica; that being said, it is awesome and a fresh album that doesn't feel like its been done a million times before.

steveman (August 22, 2006)

"If Ugly Organ is the only album you have of theirs you need to pick any one of their other releases up... this one included."

Domestica is a requirement.

Anonymous (August 22, 2006)

Ugly Organ was a bloated EP. It had 2 or 3 solid songs and pales in comparison to the bands other albums. If Ugly Organ is the only album you have of theirs you need to pick any one of their other releases up... this one included.

branden (August 22, 2006)

already sounds better than the ugly organ, but i dont really have the urge to listen to it

Anonymous (August 22, 2006)

Great review... These guys were fucking amazing at Lollapalooza!

arrhythmia (August 22, 2006)

If you don't know what Cursive sounds like, well, uh, go buy The Ugly Organ already. It's classic.

This album is lyrically amazing. Musically, took awhile to grow on me.

"Dorothy At Forty"
"The Sunks"
"At Conception"

good stuff.

Anonymous (August 22, 2006)

What if you've never heard this band before? To all of you calling this a good review, I kinda like it when a review at least gives a clue as to what a band sounds like...

steveman (August 22, 2006)

"The band, however, has returned with Happy Hollow and, surprisingly, not much has changed. In fact, the only major difference in its sound is the addition of a horn section."

What? There is soo much difference. This is not Ugly Organ Horns.

Also if there is a slow lethargic song that would count as filler it's So-So Gigolo. Dorothy is pretty upbeat and aggressive.

I think way to many people are going to intepret this album as Tim ripping on religion, but a large part of it is a story about a small town and religion plays a big part in small town life.

Anonymous (August 22, 2006)

Eh...it's good, but it's not The Ugly Organ.

video_cognito (August 22, 2006)

I only have The Ugly Organ and this, so excuse me if this comes off as ignorant, but those two albums' openers remind me of carnival music, especially with the inclusion of horns on this album.

My judgment, based off of one listen through, is that it's alright, but not as good or biting/emotional as The Ugly Organ. However, I have to say that "Bad Sects" and "Into the Fold" are my two favorites so far.

DarrenMcLeod (August 22, 2006)

A good release, but not near Cursive-caliber. The middle and second half drag, although Rise Up! Rise Up! is one of the best songs of the year.

letmego (August 22, 2006)

pretty good review & solid album

ElVaquero (August 22, 2006)

I was disappointed but it's still a pretty decent album

My album of the year so far at this point is either Oh Calcutta, Cuban Ballerina, or We Are The Pipettes

coffinfullofnails (August 22, 2006)

definately top ten this year

coffinfullofnails (August 22, 2006)

nice review, album is fucking amazing, i was worried after the amount of time between this and ugly organ, but they definately came through on this album.

Archangel (August 22, 2006)

God damn I cannot wait to get back to civilization to pick this up.

ryne (August 22, 2006)

I totally agree with the review.

kingofsuck (August 22, 2006)

Spot-on review. In my top ten of the year, for sure.

darkstarm (August 22, 2006)

The Ugly Organ was way, way better. This review is too nice. The record sounds too big. If I had a copy of it in front of me I could give a more in depth bitching, but I listened to it over a month ago and just wasn't interested.

Anonymous (August 22, 2006)

that album cover is GREAT

insinceredave (August 22, 2006)

I'm gonna be poor at the end of this week

almostpunkenough (August 22, 2006)

never listned to these guys before just now. the stuff on their myspace is pretty solid, i'll check this out.

pinoyMan (August 22, 2006)

Good Album!!!

SalsaShark (August 22, 2006)

Cursive is such a kick fucking ass band. I love the singing, I love the music, I love the lyrics and I love their name.

Anonymous (August 22, 2006)

The music slays, and the lyrics are pretty good, if a little simplistic and narrow-minded at times.

Still a great album.

Allular (August 22, 2006)

Ok, I listened to a couple of tracks. He has some solid arguments but I just don't agree with it (prepares for flogging)

THAT BEING SAID.

So far, this album slays. I'm pickin' it up. "Big Bang" owns.

fritobandito (August 22, 2006)

best album of the year so far. hands fucking down.

Allular (August 22, 2006)

It's going to be an interesting listen for me, because I'm a Christian and I do love Cursive. But art is art and I'm interested in what Mr. Kasher has to say. I'm holding off on this until Tuesday when it comes out.

somegirl (August 22, 2006)

This review is spot on. And I don't know about anyone else, the horns are a great replacement to the cello of Ugly Organ. They were my favorite part of "A Gentleman Caller," so I was psyched to hear them so much here.

cash_money_hustla (August 22, 2006)

Shit is off the hook!!!!

DenBez (August 22, 2006)

Bleh! Bleh I say! Bleh!

stevejonestherealbones (August 22, 2006)

i like the horn use on that song dorothy blah blah blah, so i'm looking forward to this

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.com

mattp330 (August 22, 2006)

pretty good review

aubin (August 22, 2006)

Amazing album; this band hasn't had a misstep in as long as I can remember.

inagreendase (August 22, 2006)

Spot on review, but the second half, musically, really doesn't do as much for me as I'd like. Here's to hoping dedicated listens will cure that.

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