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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Appleseed Cast
Lost Songs
Deep Elm

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Right when Two Conversations left me wanting more from the Appleseed Cast, I was happily obliged that they'd dug up nine Lost Songs to satiate my impatient needs. As is a noted component of this recording, four of the tracks were bare bones in 1999, but were given additional keyboards, guitars and special effects in the new release. The remaining tracks were given a quick shine and some vocals, leaving fans with more of what they want.

To put it plainly, Lost Songs is not as intriguing as the rest of their catalog. There is a grainy distance that comes from picking up where tracks were once abandoned, natch. However, the dynamism, grand dramatic gestures, and hopeful spark that are synonymous with these innovative rockers are all thoroughly evident. The final product indulges the band's looser tendencies, meandering through patches of experimental territory and the signature sound of Lawrence, Kansas. By and by, both sides sound familiar.

"E to W" is an epic whose inclusion should uplift longtime fans. It is by far the most fleshed-out and finalized track here, literally bringing us from one side to the other. When you've witnessed the fullness the band is capable of, you want nothing less. This assures this track its opening status, as it is closest to what we have previously come to enjoy.

Many of the tracks, however, show their age. Before The Appleseed Cast ventured into fresher territory, they sounded a lot like other Midwestern bands: fully crashing emo with quirky predilections. Tracks like "Peril Parts 1, 2, 3", "Novice", and "Facing North" show this worn-in format, but attempt to update it by adding small touches of the group's new perspective upon editing. The result is a little disjointed, in that the old and new sounds don't fully fit together. The group has certainly matured since their earliest appearances, and their early and late styles do not seem to be interchangeable.

True to form, however, the band does show its incredible promise throughout the album. There is no denying the talent so readily seen in every one of their releases, and here we have a glimpse at a makeshift timeline. "Take" is perhaps the best proof of this, as its appearance warrants release of the disc itself. The song is slow, pretty, minimalist, and worthy of the ripening it endured from 1999 until now. "Beach Gray" is similarly beautiful, with a sweetly muted, spooky and relevant presence. "House on a Hill" is the closest companion to a Low Level Owl track, experimental and heavy, and is a precursor to the crisp expansion to follow. These missing links are curious and somewhat satisfying, though not fully formed.

Also, we see a slight homage to the music of the Flaming Lips on the disc's better tracks, building several sprawling opuses that are characterized by immense warmth and patience. The tracks unfold at their own pace, as noted in the closing "Novice Ambient Cannibalization", and the welcoming feel is brought full circle.

There seems to be a division as to whether Lost Songs is a truly essential Appleseed Cast album. My leaning is less than affirmative, as their other releases are far more fulfilling and realized. There is no need to settle solely for this release, but chances are, you've acquired others first. That mentality will serve you well, as Lost Songs is more of a collector's item than a necessity.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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