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Anguish is such common currency in the indie rock world, it seems like a statement of the obvious to use the word to describe a band. Yet anguish is the gasoline that makes Cursive's engine go -- there's no two ways about it. The thing is, it's anguish of a decidedly different sort from that which defines the run-of-the-mill indie rock combo. Cursive's anguish isn't all wet and droopy and miserable, it's snarled and gnarled and hard and black, it's articulately self-loathing, it's self-aware, it's harrowing like a bad dream. In other words, this isn't the stock anguish we get so much of, this is something much more nuanced and true.

You can call Cursive emo, sure, but it's a lot like calling a Modest Mouse or a Rainer Maria emo; Cursive transcends the tag with its unique, unmistakable sound. Singer/songwriter Tim Kasher is a big reason for this. Though not gifted with the world's best set of pipes, his strained, wavering delivery and searching, bleakly philosophical lyrics suit the band's music wonderfully. You'll find none of the trite, Hallmarky sentiments that plague so many bands of this ilk. Also, Kasher and Ted Stevens's tangle of dissonant guitar lines is pretty amazing. Drummer Clint Schnaze and bassist Matt Maguinn round out the group with a crunching rhythm section.

The Omaha, NE band formed in the mid '90s, starting with a series of singles before issuing their debut full-length, Such Blinding Stars for Starving Eyes, in 1997. That same year, Cursive appeared on a 10-inch split with Austin's Silver Scooter, which features "Pulse." In '98, the band released The Storms of Early Summer: Semantics of Song, after which rumors of the band's breakup abounded. But after original guitarist Stephen Pederson left in favor of law school, Lullaby for the Working Class's Ted Stevens replaced him, splitting the vocal duties with Kasher on Cursive's next album, the brooding and conceptual Cursive's Domestica, which came out in mid-2000. The Ugly Organ followed in the spring of 2003.

Kasher also has an intensely inward-looking solo project going called The Good Life.