The Appleseed Cast

Two Conversations

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Appleseed Cast's first full-length collection of new material since the stylistic shift of the Low Level Owl albums (and its first for the N.Y.C. indie Tiger Style) finds the Lawrence, KS-based quintet tightening the screws on its newfound experimentalism a little bit, and jettisoning whatever stocks of emo-ness were still bouncing around in the hold after its re-emergence as "America's Radiohead." While that tag is pretty ridiculous (why does America need its own Radiohead when the real Radiohead is doing just fine?), there is some similarity in the way Appleseed Cast lets its songs unfold slowly, cascade violently, or do both concurrently. Two Conversations actually aligns the group more with 21st century indie rockers like Grandaddy or the New Year -- the entire album is full of those satisfying moments when a hesitant guitar line, meandering organ, and snatches of vocals suddenly unite and break through the clouds into a sweeping melody or crashing, drum-led crescendo. "Hello Dearest Love" begins Two Conversations with such a moment; "Fight Song," arriving halfway through, sets up its second half. Slowcore nods its head throughout the record, defining the loping, lilting pace of "How Life Can Turn" and "A Dream for Us." Christopher Crisci's vaguely psychedelic vocals fit well into the swirling wake of the synths, piano, and plinking guitars guiding "Hanging Marionette," which tempers its dizzier qualities with an upbeat tempo change and more conventional power chordage. "Innocent Vigilant Ordinary" becomes the only tangible link to Appleseed Cast's dormant emo stylings, but its plaintive lyrics ("I want you to know that I'll always love you/And always be your friend"), while fitting of that doe-eyed genre, are delivered in a way that brings to mind the Cure before it does some kingfisher of emo. Appleseed Cast made a sharp, ambitious turn with Low Level Owl work. The confident Two Conversations reveals that the stylistic road it's on now is where it's meant to be.

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