According to their Bandcamp, Curse League are a group of LOUD PUNX. Flip on their EP Bodega Disco though, and you will be transported to a world of exquisite jammy math rock that celebrates a journey into something new. Leaving home operates at the forefront for this Seattle-based band, which may have to do with their youthful positions in life, and it seems that their best reaction to the jarring moment of being let loose is to play the fuck out of their instruments. Curse League sound unabashedly resilient about stepping out into the world.
Listen: Bodega Disco [EP] – Curse League
The music works as a rallying cry and is easy to see being shouted by many like-minded listeners before descending to all out surrender to movement in a mosh pit. Upon seeing them at a recent house show, I would also add that they seem very aware of what they are doing – the environment that they are creating. They play with abandon, but they encourage concert-goers to be aware of the people surrounding them – it’s clear their music has intention behind it. That being said, a quick scan of the lyrics on the four track Bodega Disco doesn’t immediately reveal their plans for affecting listeners. The lyrics play like a Book of Revelation, following the journey of a girl leaving home, getting wrapped up in some sort of apocalyptic political landscape before the flags are lowered and the “medicine evaporates”. The lyrical story though, does not really seem to be the main concern for Curse League. Vocals are used more as another instrument, and while the lyrics do hold up under scrutiny, a casual listener may be more meant to feel the weariness of drummer/singer Jake Campbell’s refrains.
The entry point for Curse League is the opening track to Bodega Disco, “Vencido.” Vencido is a Spanish word that translates to “defeated” in English. It’s a pretty emo move to name your opener “defeated” in Spanish, and while Curse League wear some classic emo badges like this one, they are math rock through and through, the point is not necessarily to shine light on the vocals, but to instead have the whole mix of the band work as a tandem force. More Tera Melos jammy than Brand New’s personal lyrical confessions. And on “Vencido,” the instrumentation dances around as it pleases, successfully creating a world that is gorgeous but impossible to let fall into the background. This is largely due to the precise instrumentation which mixes and matches time signatures and keys alike. Likely recording on a budget, a band like Curse League needs very solid mechanics that don’t need to be shrouded by more expensive mixing tools and tricks. And the rawness of it all, whether they prefer it that way or not, does add to the more intimate ideas the band seems to represent.
With fantastic albums recently put out by big emo contenders like The Hotelier and Modern Baseball, the path looks bright for a rising math/emo band like Curse League. Believe it or not, there is a surging group of young adults looking for positive music with an honest sense of the discord of life. And Curse League, with their miraculously full and anthemic sound, certainly has the potential to unify a swarm of these kind of listeners.
Having just added a fourth member in bassist Alexandria Hickel, it doesn’t look like Curse League will be slowing down anytime soon, and that’s a good thing. For now, we have a promising start in Bodega Disco.
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cover: Curse League © 2016
Bodega Disco – Curse League