Appleseed Cast has to be one of the best, most often overlooked bands in the world. Release after release, these guys keep putting out truly beautiful, unique, and well-written music that many people seem to ignore, for whatever reason. I’m guessing that indie snobbery might have kept many kids from giving these guys a try (they used to be on Deep Elm, the label that releases the unforgivingly corny “Emo Diaries” series of compilations), but with Two Conversations, Appleseed Cast may finally be able to capitalize on the whispers of stardom which started with their Low Level Owl releases.
Two Conversations, which is on the Tiger Style label, finds the boys returning to the more mathematical and postpunk style of albums like Mare Vitalis (I don’t like to use the term “emo,” as it means little these days), while still championing the experimental facets of the Low Level Owl albums. Where the Low Level Owl records focused on exploration of their sound, and experimentation in general, Two Conversations takes the parts that worked during Low Level Owl times, and seem to have woven them into the style of their previous releases. The result is a truly melodic, yet sparse and dreamy release, not unlike Elliot’s Song in The Air. I guess the overall sound of Two Conversations is very hard to pin down, but I really love it, in the same way that I have trouble describing what Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief sounds like, but I love it.
One thing is for sure, though, and it’s that vocalist Christopher Crisci has made himself into a wonderful lead singer. I used to think that he was kind of a rip off of Mineral’s lead singer, but his voice has really evolved into a beautiful, raspy gem, sounding like a cross between Planes Mistaken For Stars’ lead vocalist and Chamberlain’s lead singer. He has completely lost any “emo” whininess of the past, and replaced it with a mature grit and weariness that few emo wusses could ever pull off.
The band itself has kept quite a bit of the weirdness from the Low Level Owl albums, including the synthesizers. To be honest, though, the weirdness is such that it hides behind beautiful melodies and well-structured arrangements, making for beautiful weirdness, in the same way that Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song” is beautifully weird.
The guitars are as grainy as ever, but the overall approach seems slowed down, with the syncopation of chords coming at a slower rate, making for a somewhat tired/ exhausted mood on several tracks (see “Sinking” for best example). On the other hand, some of the trademark Appleseed Cast guitar noodlings can be found here (specifically on “Ice Heavy Branches” and “Innocent Vigilant Ordinary”), so the guitars on this album should please fans of both pre- and post- Low Level Owl Appleseed Cast.
The overall verdict is that this band is amazing. I honestly believe that the weirdness of Low Level Owl attracted many new listeners, but it may have confused some older Appleseed Cast fans; with Two Conversations, though, they’ve put both styles together, added some sadness and longing, and come up with the best album of their admirable career. This album is easily one of 2003’s Top Five releases, and I strongly urge that anyone reading this to give it a listen. This is a simply incredible record.
Tiger Style Records: http://www.tigerstylerecords.com/