Cursive’s Tim Kasher fights Peter Pan

cursiveGood interview with Cursive’s Tim Kasher over at the A.V. Club. He talks about his band’s sporadic output, living in a constant state of suspended adolescence, and not being able to listen to some of his own songs. I’ve always found Kasher an enigmatic songwriter. My first impression of him was as sort of a sensitive emo kid with no internal editor. I came around, even on some of the songs that had originally put me off. By 2003’s The Ugly Organ I was more than sold, and it stands as one of my favorite records of the last ten years. I think the new record, Mama, I’m Swollen, sits well amongst his best work, even if it diverges from what a lot of people think a Cursive record should sound like. Lyrically, he’s still in hyper self-awareness mode, though slightly more mature in his self-flagellation. With that distinctive yowl, he possesses one of the best voices in rock. He can sound like a tortured beast when he yells but then shrink to a tuneful whisper, often in the same breath. I find it amusing that the guy doesn’t really listen to much “hard” music, yet it’s how he makes his living.

Stream: DJ Scratch “Too Late” (featuring Damon Albarn Taleb Kweli)

Who knew Damon Albarn’s voice would lend itself so well to slow-burning hip-hop beats and flashy turntablisms? He’s more than proved himself in that context thanks to Gorillaz’ unexpected worldwide success, and now DJ Scratch has tapped Albarn’s distinctive croon for his second solo record. He’s in esteemed (give or take) company, as Kanye West, Taleb Kweli, and Estelle all lend various talents to the album. This could easily be a Gorillaz song, if a slightly dour one, save for the peppy Kweli interludes and DJ Scratch’s scratches.

Prince < Joan Jett < Tommy James

Prince’s take on the Tommy James and the Shondells classic “Crimson and Clover” is kind of watery and distant. It seems to drag a bit, even on the rocking parts. And the video is a new-age hippie’s wet dream. Sadly, this version doesn’t touch Joan Jett’s killer cover from 1981’s I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll. [via Stereogum]

Degrees of separation: Talking Heads and Joy Division

talking-division

I had never made the correlation between the Talking Heads song “The Overload” and Joy Division, but I’m Waking Up To… has an intriguing post about the history of that closing track off Talking Heads’ seminal Remain in Light LP from 1980. None of the members of the Talking Heads had ever heard Joy Division’s music at that time, but they’d all read the press that year covering Ian Curtis’ suicide and were intrigued by the common descriptors used for Joy Division’s dark, depressing music. The band decided to write a song based solely on journalistic interpretations of what Joy Division sounded like, and the result is eerily accurate.

“’the overload’ loses the band’s distinctive compactness in favor of an ambience spread thin over its 5 minutes, with david byrne’s vocals inheriting an eerily distant ian curtis drone, reminiscent of deathly ballads like ‘candidate’ from unknown pleasures (1979) or ‘the eternal’ from closer (1980). if anything, though, talking heads attempts this mimicry far too well in reconstructing perfectly the structure and form of joy division while paying little attention to its heart and soul.”

Compare and contrast:

Talking Heads – The Overload.mp3

Joy Division – Candidate.mp3

Joy Division – The Eternal.mp3

Leak: Leighton Meester “Birthday” stream

Leighton Meester of Gossip Girl has signed a deal with Universal Republic Records, and her debut solo album will be released this fall. This is the first leaked track, entitled “Birthday”, which is a collaboration with Awesome New Republic. Meester’s voice certainly works in this sugary pop context, but the song is slightly edgier than typical Top 40 fare. Not sure how it will play to her audience, but she’s not embarrassing herself by any means. It’s Friday, and I’m indulging my Gossip Girl obsession.