Appleseed Cast Peregrine

[The Militia Group; 2006]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: emo, post-rock
Others: Sunny Day Real Estate, Now It’s Overhead, Brandtson

America's favorite smart-emo kids returned this year with Peregrine, two albums after their big break, the near-universally-approved Low Level Owl sessions. If you're just catching up with the Cast, not to worry — they're still playing at the same game: Fancy production, long instrumental bridges (and wholly-instrumental tracks) that pepper the album (that's the post-rock), and the well-worn soft/loud catharses and yearning lyrics (that's the emo). "Woodland Hunter" is typical, beginning with a peppy telephone-filter vocal that of course explodes into a fully-produced midsection. Ex-Casket Lottery Junior Richardson's drumming is adequate if not quite on par with Owl-era drummer Josh Baruth's.

What's nice to see is the moments of experimentation on Peregrine, which find the band stretching even further from their conventional roots. "Mountain Halo" is perhaps the best example of this — the production tricks and percussion on the song call to mind TV On the Radio, although the vocals and melody are leagues away. I'm uncertain if Appleseed Cast have ever recorded a record that isn't a concept record, but they're a band particularly suited to it; their songs on Peregrine, as elsewhere, are rarely direct, rarely even possessed of memorable melodies ("February" here is an exception). Instead, these are albums of peaks and valleys, and while some ("Sunlit and Ascending") grate, they're rarely worse than boring — and most often pretty interesting. If nothing else, Appleseed Cast are a great choice to wean the adolescent in your life off the band's shittier contemporaries.

1. Ceremony
2. Woodland Hunter Pt 1
3. Here We Are (Family in the Hallways)
4. Silas' Knife
5. Mountain Halo
6. Sunlit and Ascending
7. February
8. An Orange and a Blue
9. Song 3
10. Woodland Hunter Pt 2
11. Peregrine
12. A Fate Delivered
13. The Clock and the Storm