Folkadelphia Session: Tim Kasher


This is a special one for us here at Folkadelphia; it’s an honor to present this week’s Folkadelphia Session featuring one of my musical heroes, Tim Kasher. You may know Tim as the frontman for Cursive, the long-running seminal and wildly diverse sounding group, The Good Life, Kasher’s bleary-eyed, solo side project often turned full-band main focus, or perhaps as a figure and fixture of Omaha, NE’s Saddle Creek Records, which brought bands like Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley, and Azure Ray to national recognition. Over the years, Kasher has continued to amaze and impress with his artful turns of phrase and his evolution as a songwriter in each project.

A quick look at Cursive, for instance, sees a change from the jittery guitar rock of Such Blinding Stars For Starving Eyes (1997) and The Storms of Early Summer: Semantics of Song (1998) to the hugely thematic Domestica (2000) to the fleshed-out orchestration in The Ugly Organ (2003) and Happy Hollow (2006). These were both followed up by some of the most unique and progressive rock in recent years in their latest two releases (both criminally overlooked) Mama, I’m Swollen (2009) and I Am Gemini (2012). This is to say nothing of his other long-running project, The Good Life, and its evolution and frequent changes (solo to electro-acoustic to full band, oh my!)

The main take away is that Kasher has stuck to his guns and his whiskey bottle, and has waved off transient trends and popular opinion in favor of pursuing his own musical ideals. In the past couple years, this has been presented to us as a full-length (The Game of Monogamy) and outtakes record (Bigamy…), released eponymously, the first such as named for the man, Tim Kasher.

I want to thank Tim and his traveling companion and opening act Nate Kinsella (of Birthmark) for stopping by WXPN on March 13th before performing at Johnny Brenda’s on this short tour and heading back to the studio to record a new solo record.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Omar at The Fire, Tim Kasher at Johnny Brenda’s

Photo by John Christon
Photo credit: John Christon
Philadelphia punk duo Omar is back. After the band’s “last show ever” in April 2011, Candice and Nick quickly recanted. A tweet in November of 2011 teased, “Don’t unfollow this account just yet.” Shows were scheduled for 2012 and by January of this year, Omar could be seen tweeting variations on the theme “We are a band again!!!” some with more expletives and hashtags than others. Of course, the grunge rock that Omar plays rarely reflects the cheery spirits of the duo’s members. To catch some of their enthusiasm, head to The Fire tonight, where they play with Great Red Spots and The Love Club. Tickets and information for the 21+ show are available here. Below, stream “Candice Sells Out and Tries to Move to Brooklyn” from Omar’s Bandcamp.

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Tim Kasher of Cursive, The Good Life, every Saddle Creek band in the late ’90s, plays Johnny Brenda’s on March 13th

You have to tip your hat to musicians who have been around for forever, but continue to release high quality, highly diverse albums even if that means potentially alienating core fans or bucking musical trends. Tim Kasher is a master at biting his thumb at what is considered fashionable or “of-the-moment,” and thank god for that because it has allowed him and his various bands to create some of the most brilliant music of the last decade plus.I think of Cursive’s angst-laden Domestica (2000), the conceptual The Ugly Organ (2003), or this year’s masterful, yet criminally overlooked I Am Gemini. In 2004 with his regular side project The Good Life, Kasher released Album of the Year, a story-oriented record that continues to mean so much to me. In his latest incarnation, he has taken up the mantle of “damn-good singer-songwriter” under his own name, releasing The Game of Monogamy in 2010. He’s kind of the Bukowskian patron saint of writing sad sack, bleary-eyed songs of heartbreak, unrequited love, and self-loathing. I’m sure Tim Kasher will be pulling from his large catalog of songs when plays Johnny Brenda’s on March 13th. The label just announced the show in a string of Northeast tour dates today; on-sale information will be available shortly. Below, listen to Kasher performing an acoustic rendition of “The Jessica” on the air on XPN2 last year.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Minus the Bear at Electric Factory, Mark Kozelek at First Unitarian Church Sanctuary, Chill Moody at Love Park, BITBY One Year Anniversary at Johnny Brenda’s, John Lee Hooker, Jr. at Warmdaddy’s

XPN Welcomes Seattle indie rockers Minus the Bear to the Electric Factory tonight. In August the band released its fifth studio album, Infinity Overhead,  to praise from critics who have said it has been “not so much transforming their sound as transcending it” (The Village Voice). Minus the Bear will be playing tonight with Cursive and Caspian. The all-ages show begins at 8:30 and more information about the show can be found here. Watch Minus the Bear’s new video for “Steel and Blood” below.

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Tonight’s Concert Pick: Cursive at Union Transfer

Photo by Daniel Muller

Cursive fans must say goodbye to the subdued, somewhat morbid tone they’ve come to associate with the indie-rock band from Omaha. Its latest full-length album,  I Am Gemini (released in February via Saddle Creek), strays quite a bit from previous albums; the band has shed some of its somberness by ditching its gloomy cello and now incorporates more of an energized pop feel. Even the lyrics are less depressing than what one would find in past fan-favorites, such as “The Recluse,” a song that appears to be about an emotionally troubling one-night stand. I Am Gemini brings an obvious change in style to the table and may not pack a punch as strong as Cursive’s more serious work, but fans might appreciate the opportunity to have a bit more fun. Cursive performs with Cymbals Eat Guitars and Conduits at 8:30 p.m. at Union Transfer; tickets to the all-ages show are $15. —Lisa Henderson

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Cursive adds more U.S. tour dates, will play at Union Transfer on April 5th

Cursive recently announced a U.S. tour in support of the band’s upcoming seventh full-length album, I Am Gemini (due Feb. 21 on Saddle Creek); a second round of tour dates has just been added, including a stop at Union Transfer on April 5th. Tickets go on sale at noon this Friday, January 6th, via the R5 Productions website.

As the band’s press release states, I Am Gemini is a concept album that follows “Cassius and Pollock, twin brothers separated at birth. One good and one evil, their unexpected reunion in a house that is not a home ignites a classic struggle for the soul, played out with a cast of supporting characters that includes a chorus of angels and devils, and twin sisters conjoined at the head.” You can download the track “The Sun And The Moon” from Saddle Creek (in exchange for an email address) below; the track listing and tour dates can be found after the jump.

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