12 July 2011

The Appleseed Cast - middle states (2011, Graveface)

I started to listen to The Appleseed Cast with their first album, "The End of Ring Wars" (1998), in the middle of the Midwest emo wave, and went on with "Mare Vitalis" (2000) finding it even better but as a second-rate Mineral or Sunny Day Real Estate, powerful, even if almost mind-blowing on a few tracks, but not as subtle.

Everything changed in 2001 with "Low Level Owl" volume I & II, were The Appleseed Cast moved to a more refined approach, incorporating shoegazing and atmospheric post-rock elements, realizing their absolute masterpiece, totally reinventing their sound and escaping ther Midwest emo tag for an unknown territory. Ten years after this double album still stands apart. 

Two years after, in 2003, they realized what I consider as their best album, "Two Conversations", returning to a more melodic, songwriting mode. Even if less adventurous, it's was a solid and strongly addictive album. 

I neglected them afterwards and never really explored "Peregrine" (2006) and "Samarghata" (2009) because their sound appeared heavier and more complexe, more post-rock and yes, maybe progressive.

Strangely their new EP took my attention, partially surprised they were still around, and also because I am occasionally charmed when one of their old songs appears in my itunes shuffle playlist.

Apparently this EP is dedicated to the small towns and middle states of the USA, as it is also the kind of place they come from (Lawrence, Kansas), where they often tour and maybe also the type of career they have got, as they never broke the ice and received hype and large public praise, simply building a stable and devoted fanbase which helped to keep the band alive so far and intact considering their ethics.

It's 28 minutes long but the second half consists of a 14 minutes semi-improvised post-rock instrumental which even if efficient and melodic is devoid of real charm. The second track, called "Interlude", is just really a three minutes long "interlude". In fact this EP contains only two real songs.

The opening one, "End Frigate Constellation" is strangely produced, with the vocals hidden behind the music, reduced to a maelstrom of guitars, synths, drums and bass, lacking of clarity and lucidity.

The real reason for me to write this review is the title track, "Middle States", which sees them returning to their mythical trilogy, as it is intense, melodic, melancholic, dynamic and stormy, and they alternate moments of calm and clarity and moments of passion and emotional release.

It is for me an Appleseed Cast standard, not worse and not better than their previous great songs, just a shoot of fresh air, adrenalin and joy, just like "Marigold And Patchwork", "Steps and numbers", "Fishing The Sky", "Fight Song", "On Reflection", "Losing Touching Searching", ..., so many ones indeed.

The paradox of Appleseed Cast is that they seem to be a very basic and down to earth band, very natural and spontaneous, but which suddenly creates compelling songs you just wish to hear at full volume, going down the slope at full tilt on your bike, while inside your mind and heart are flying.


1 comment:

  1. i saw them perform Low Level Owl I & II in Chicago last year. the whole room was levitating. :)