The Appleseed Cast

Lineup changes alone can derail even the strongest band -- never mind record label difficulties and personal problems. But Lawrence, Kansas' Appleseed Cast emerged from all of the above tougher for the experience. After six years together and four full-length albums, including 2001's breakthrough double album, Low Level Owl, the band underwent internal problems, and their label for 2003's Two Conversations, the much-missed Tigerstyle Records, folded.

Instead of calling it quits, the Appleseed Cast took a much-needed hiatus. Drummer Josh Baruth left the band, and Nathan Richardson came on board. Then the foursome, including Chris Crisci (vocals/guitar), Aaron Pillar (guitar), and Marc Young (bass), began working on their fifth full-length, Peregrine, an album that combines the emotional, aggressive sound of their earliest releases with the dynamic and experimental work that characterized their later albums.

Peregrine bears the scars of Appleseed Cast's past. Whatever personal or band problems the group endured, they're exorcized them on this album's contemplative instrumentals, beginning with the echoing opener, "Celebration," which climbs and dives over its four minutes. Peregrine is a female name associated with restless wandering, and it's also the name of the daughter in the album's recurring storyline. Here Peregrine is a ghost, a daughter, a reminder of secrets waiting to be dug up. Woven around Peregrine's 13 tracks is a horror story of violence and familial guilt, which Crisci makes all the more easy to imagine with his plaintive voice. It would be a bit scary if the songs weren't so lush and pretty.

Hiatus now over, the Appleseed Cast can celebrate ten years together this tour -- if only nature would let them. "For the second time in a week we were stuck in a snow storm and had to cancel the show," they wrote on their website last week. But we think they'll pull through.

The Life and Times

The Life and Times is a Kansas City, MO indie rock band fronted by former Shiner bandleader Allen Epley. After Shiner disbanded in late 2002, Epley began working with drummer Mike Myers and bassist/guitarist John “Houdini” Meredith and released their debut EP “The Flat End Of The Earth” in the summer of 2003. “Flat End’s” most noticeable distinction from Shiner was the instrumentation; after the math-rock bombardment that marked Shiner, Epley found a looser, almost Floydian dynamic to his usual foundation of distorted guitar and brooding vocals, and the early material explored the moodier edge of their sound.

Although the lineup had a fair amount of material recorded, the EP would end up being their only document. After touring extensively for the EP, the lineup disbanded, with Mike Myers going to drum for The String and Return. Epley, however, decided to recruit a new lineup under the same name, and brought in bassist Eric Abert of Ring, Cicada, and drummer Chris Metcalf to work out new material. The difference is striking - Metcalf’s drumming couldn’t be further from Myers, laying out metric layers of relentless percussion that when combined with Abert’s bass comes closer to Helmet than anything else. For all of the heaviness, though, the songs themselves are prone to developing a shimmering beauty with layers of guitar and processed vocals cascading against the rhythm section, and “Suburban Hymns” goes deeper into the more emotional territory suggested on “Flat End.”

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The Appleseed Cast, The Life and Times with Muscle Worship

Tuesday, July 9 · 8:00 PM at The Riot Room