The Appleseed Cast is a band I've grown to depend on.
From the stark, emotive End of the Ring Wars (1998) to the grandeur of the Low Level Owl series (2001), these Kansas natives have put out release after release of high-quality music. Sure, the album-to-album changes over the years have grown less drastic. Some might even say the band has settled into a routine–but is that such a bad thing?
Like a sunny summer evening on the porch with a cold glass of lemonade, you always know exactly what you're getting. And it always puts a smile on your face.
With only four songs on Middle States, it's an easy EP to delve right into. And it's an even easier EP to become completely immersed in as soon as the slow, rhythmic fills of "End Frigate Constellation" lead into waves of reverb and Christopher Crisci's warm, inviting vocals. The track is a terrific assemblage of tactful percussion and constantly changing chord progressions; seemingly at once the guitars are gently wailing while rhythms skirt in and out of the fold.
The title track, "Middle States" is that quintessential front porch-in-the-summer track. Everything about it gleams like the sun off a freshly washed car. The clean guitar progressions open the song and unfailingly gorgeous rhythms permeate every aspect of the track, but it's at the one-minute mark where things really start to soar; the drum fills cascade in perfect time and Crisci sounds bright and alive. Everything is crisp, and the feel-good sound changes tempo often but never loses its spirit.
The band's 14-minute opus of a closer could have been an EP all on its own.
"Three Rivers" may be devoid of vocals, but believe that the instrumentation does plenty of talking. The Appleseed Cast have long been a band that toed the line between full-fledged post-rock and indie, but this track gives plenty of service to the former. From delicate beginnings to the caustic end, every minute is spellbinding. From the visceral emotion of the guitars to the reserved importance of the snare, from the mid-tempo leanings to the all-out release at the finale, the song encompasses both band and EP.
What takes most bands an entire album to show, the Appleseed Cast is capable of in just four songs. What the warm sun says about summer, I say about tAC as its soundtrack.