REVIEW: The Appleseed Cast: Two Conversations
The Appleseed Cast: Two Conversations [Tiger Style, 2003] (mp3s)
Three words? mundane bloody mundane
When I first got Two Conversations, I had never heard of The Appleseed Cast. For the sake of convenience, I decided to judge the book by its cover and assumed their Elephant 6-ish band name meant that they were some psychedelic folk nonsense. But then I saw that the band used to be signed to Deep Elm, and that their website makes ominous reference to "emo hardcore." Oh, what a bind I was in! I didn't know what to think! So now, a few weeks and a few too many spins of Two Conversations later, I'm still not 100% sure on what exactly The Appleseed Cast are. But whatever they are, I'm pretty sure I don't like it.
For anyone left wondering: the Appleseed Cast formed in 1997 in Lawernce, KS, released a bunch of albums, and are now signed to indie-haven Tiger Style. According to the band, Two Conversations is a concept album, with the lyrics and themes split into separate sections: first love, then loss, and finally politics (I admit my description of the concept is a little weak, so please show restraint with your hateful e-mails). With more variation in their recording, organizing the album like this could have been ingenious. But the same massive, over-produced sound is constant throughout the record. The results sound like some American melodic-punks covering War and The Joshua Tree simultaneously. The opening "Hello Dearest Love" pretty much sets the tone of the first half of the album: slow with simple keyboard lines and everything coated in watery reverb. "Hanging Marionette" and "Ice Heavy Branches" crawl by with little to distinguish one from the other, and the 'emotional tension' on "Fight Song" is completely unconvincing.
The album picks up a bit near the end, when the band showcases their ability to change styles and master the studio. The xylophone and acoustic guitar on "The Page" pair up nicely with the sleepy vocals, "Innocent Vigilant Ordinary" is a compelling rocker, and the swaying "How Life Can Turn" is lovely, helping to end the album on an up note.
Two Conversations is definitely not a good album, but the Appleseed Cast might actually be a good band, and with some concentration on making each song unique - and a few good hooks - this thing could have been ok. I'm looking forward to when these guys decide to scale back and tape their next record on a 4-track in the basement of a barbershop.