The Good Life | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Good Life 

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Like Saddle Creek stablemate and fellow Robert Smith emulator Conor Oberst, the Good Life front man Tim Kasher is a literary songwriter. But where Oberst unspools endless tangles of poetic verbiage, Kasher is an economical writer of short fiction, curt and blunt. He's also just as fatalistic and self-consciously seedy as you'd expect of a guy who name-drops Fante and Bukowski (in the same verse, no less); his new record starts, "The first time that I met her I was throwing up in the ladies' room stall." Album of the Year is Kasher's fourth full-length dissection of a doomed relationship (counting the Good Life's other full-length and two more with his other band, Cursive), and he hasn't developed many fresh insights. But he has a gift for placing his self-pitying, self-justifying postcollegiate bohos in a recognizable world, full of rumors, recriminations, and unwanted postbreakup encounters that ring true to life. And while musically a lot of this is basic acoustic singer-songwriter stuff with rock backup, there are occasional bravura touches, like the trumpet on "You're No Fool," which shifts midsong from Chet Baker through a tenement window to New Orleans funeral three blocks away. The Good Life's recent EP, Lovers Need Lawyers, is more consistent musically and less claustrophobic thematically--not only does Kasher complain about something besides unhappy love (he slags greedy club owners on "Entertainer") but "Always a Bridesmaid" has what sounds pretty close to a happy ending. Low Skies and McCarthy Trenching open. $10. Saturday, July 17, 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bryce Bridges.


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