The Appleseed Cast

Change, as they say, is a good thing. And a lot has changed for Lawrence, Kansas, post-rock outfit The Appleseed Cast over the 14 years since their founding. With Illumination Ritual (out April 23rd), their first full-length since 2009’s Sagamartha & first output since 2011’s Middle States EP, they’ve embraced not only a new line-up, but also hopscotching time signatures and a tumultuous anthemic energy that rivals anything else in their consistently impressive catalog.
With lyrics written over the course of three nights, between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m., & music written over a 3 month period of time, Illumination Ritual reflects both a sense of urgency and unbridled creative energy. Many bands fizzle out after a few records but on this, their 8th full length, they’ve hit a high mark that many will undoubtedly compare to their 2001 masterpiece, Low Level Owl. We here at Graveface feel this is easily their best record to date though.
Every album has come with line up changes for The Appleseed Cast. This one introduces Taylor Holenbeck on guitar and Nathan Wilder on drums. Both additions are outstanding on this record. Musical interplay between band members is something Appleseed Cast is known for, but the level of counterpoint and intricate yet chaotic energy is unmatched to anything they've done to date. The songs are energetic, sweeping, full of atmosphere, melancholy yet hopeful, driving, determined, and unabashed. Lyrically, Chris Crisci (founding member) is creating images to be pieced together. Much like Appleseed Cast's seminal work, every song has a feeling and theme, but nothing is forced or in your face. The lyrics frame perfectly the vision of the music. In songs like Great Lake Derelict and Cathedral Rings you can hear nods to some of their most recognizable work, but there’s something new and fresh that’s all encompassing.
With such a natural chemistry within the new line up, it makes sense that the songs themselves, while embracing chaos and a tuneful math-rock sensibility, eschew earlier recordings’ slick production for a more organic sound. The songwriting itself grew from collaborative explorations in the studio, with each player given time to riff on the parts that had been laid down before, their spontaneous contributions captured and cut together. Newly invigorated by their shared enthusiasm and the interplay of their individual talents, The Appleseed Cast enters their fourteenth year as a new band in the best sense, full of fresh ideas and the energy to bring them to both longtime fans and new converts alike.

Hospital Ships

Hospital Ships is set to release their new record, "Destruction In Yr Soul," on Graveface Records on May 21st, almost exactly 2 years after the release of "Lonely Twin," which garnered praise from music blogs in the US and Europe as well as NPR music, leading to a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR. "Destruction In Yr Soul" is an all together weirder and more epic record, a collection of songs written collaboratively, influenced by spiritual noise and old weird folk music in equal parts. Hospital Ships is from Lawrence, Kansas, and features current and former members of Minus Story, Shearwater, and the Appleseed Cast.

Minted together by psychedelic, folk, rock, and doo-wop influences, Varlet is an indie genre-bending sonic dream layered over earthy, driving drums. On Varlet's November 2011 release, "The Drifter," Lilly Scott's vocals rise like bubbles bursting into a rocking jazz wail, as if Billie Holiday decided to resurrect and front a Neil Young-inspired indie act. The drums pulse with earthy distinction and song structures on guitar, lap steel, and piano range from classical composition, to jazz, to intricately woven '60s and '70s psychedelic progressions.

Yet Varlet's lyrical content may be the grittiest element the band offers on The Drifter. All members collaborate on each track's instrumentation and lyrics. Their partnership creates tangible narrative settings in every song on the new album: Perhaps Varlet is exploring the female experience of constructed identity ("High Heels", "Lady Lie"), or delivering straightforward commentary on the subculture of a city big enough to raise social adrenaline, yet small enough to wrap around yourself ("Eastern", "In My Pocket"). Fast riffs over folk elements pound your heart steadily into your throat as you listen to the only current female-fronted act delivering haunted, candid lyrics about modern urban life, without packaging that content into a gimmick.

The Drifter realizes Varlet's artistic vision to effect a striking amalgam of experimental folk with pulsing rock and roll undertones.

"VAR-LET" -- A Shakespearian word meaning a rogue: a deceitful and unreliable scoundrel.

Doubters

doubters are a denver indie rock four piece. yep, definitely a 4 piece.

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The Appleseed Cast with Hospital Ships, Varlet, Doubters

Wednesday, May 8 · Doors 8:30 PM / Show 9:00 PM at Hi-Dive

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