CD Reviews


Tim Kasher The Game of Monogamy (Saddle Creek)

After a symphonic overture with harp and timpani, the first words out of Cursive frontman Tim Kasher’s mouth are: “I am a grown man/How did this happen?/People are gonna start expecting more from me.” It’s a sincere statement that Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo has never considered. The two released albums in the same month, and Cuomo and Kasher are Bizarro versions of the other: The latter takes risks, earns acclaim, while the former is a successful jock-rocker. Monogamy is another ambitious, bruisingly confessional record in Kasher’s discography. This time, arrangements are wildly sophisticated. Punchy horns, stuttering handclaps, background female vocals pop in and out, driving home a conceit: The endless Rubik’s Cubing of a relationship kills passion. “Cold Love” and “No Fireworks” are lyrically astute folk rockers with post-punk edges. Only the draining, guilt-laden “Bad, Bad Dreams,” in which Kasher screams “I gotta see a priest!” makes you wonder if Cuomo was right to be private. ★★★☆☆


Grinderman Grinderman 2 (Anti)

Realizing he was becoming a morbid piano man—a drinking existentialist’s Billy Joel—Bad Seeder Nick Cave unleashed his inner shit-throwing monkey with 2007’s eponymous Grinderman debut, a return to noisy form for the ex-Birthday Party frontman. With a second album, Cave elevates the discourse with trickier chord changes and varied rhythmic excursions. It’s the same darkly comedic psyche-garage attack he and Warren Ellis, Jim Sclavunos and Martyn Casey introduced before—only with better songs. In the Bo Diddley-meets-Iggy Pop “Worm Tamer,” Cave whips himself with a lover’s words: “Well, my baby calls me the Loch Ness Monster/Two great humps then I’m gone.” In the stomping “Heathen Child,” he channels libertarian paranoia: “You think your government will protect you/You are wrong.” But it’s the absurd seduction in “Kitchenette” (“What’s this husband of yours ever given you/Oprah Winfrey on a plasma screen”) that captures Grinderman’s lusty ethos. ★★★★☆


A Crowd of Small Adventures A Decade in X-Rays (National SouthWestern Electronic Recordings)

Goddamn it, where did all these incredible Vegas indie-rock acts come from? It’s a golden era, and we’d better enjoy it, courtesy of Kid Meets Cougar, Minor Suns, Hungry Cloud, Las Vegas Club, Mother McKenzie—and, of course, the best of the bunch, A Crowd of Small Adventures. Frontman/songwriter Jackson Wilcox possesses the standard, anxious indie alto, but his songcraft is epic and unique and deeply literate, particularly in the post-apocalyptic, desert-blasted “Bang Bang,” in which he boasts to a lover of “a plan that will get us out of here alive.” It’s easily the best WW III-survivalism pop tune ever. There’s also the gorgeous “Gemini,” shot through with haunting violin-and-synth lines and bright and bubbly Telecaster licks. “Bone City,” a drinking beer-guzzling anthem for the ghosts of Hoover Dam, sounds like Neutral Milk Hotel trapped in The Pogues’ distillery. In other words, this is ardent, thoughtful rock for anyone who appreciates eerie, compelling musicianship. ★★★★★

Suggested Next Read

Buried (R)

Movie Review

Buried (R)

This is easily the worst film of 2010. The only thing that keeps you awake while you’re watching Ryan Reynolds unconvincingly “act” like he’s trapped in a buried coffin are the insipid cell phone plot points. Reynolds plays an American truck driver in Iraq, whose enemies have buried him alive. He has phone conversations with the FBI, his employers, a ransom-demanding Iraqi and family members