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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Appleseed Cast -- Two Conversations


I'm not sure if I've ever been as disappointed on a first listen as I was during my introduction to The Appleseed Cast's Two Conversations. How could a band that had just explored the vastness and depth of the ocean, then bottled the very essence of autumn and pressed it to plastic, content themselves with writing and recording an album based on a simple love story? I kept diving into Two Conversations again and again, trying to find what I had missed, but everytime I came up with a handful of sand. It wasn't until I matured and managed my expectations that I brought a sand dollar to the surface**

**Editor's note: Could you make this more about you?

Two Conversations begins as if it's coming out of the dream of Low Level Owl, The Appleseed Cast's previous project. The organ featured in the intro sounds lifted straight from those albums, before it fades away to something completely different--alternative rock?

Yes, it still sounds like The Appleseed Cast, and it still has some pretty moments, but what the heck? The album continues in this musical vein, lyrically painting a picture of a romantic relationship, but by the time we get to track five we've got...what?! A BREAKUP SONG?!?!?!

What band is this? Even if the drums are subversive, and the guitars different from any band trying something similar, I didn't get into The Appleseed Cast to listen to breakup songs! I got into them because they put emotions and feelings that can't be expressed in conversation into music. Now I'm getting...a conversation? Two conversations? Jeez! The next song, "Sinking," finds Crisci's narrator falling into a drunken stupor over the breakup before finally finding a way to more healthily contain his thoughts on paper in "The Page," which leads to a sort of peace in the upbeat, "Innocent Vigilant Ordinary." The last two songs are low key, half lament, half wishful thinking positivity for the future. Then it's over. On top of that, the first couple of songs have a sort of political undertone perhaps dealing with the, at-the-time, new war in Iraq, but this is completely abandoned in later tracks. After trying fruitlessly for months to figure out this album, I let it go.
Five or six years later, I picked it up again under the impression that this was a weak album, and was quite impressed. Why? HERE'S A LIST!
1. Cohesion. This isn't just some alternative-emo'ish collection of songs about a relationship. This is kind of like the Blue Valentine of albums (with a slightly happier ending). The couple starts in rosy times, cracks appear, they breakup, the guy fall into a heavy depression, deals, gets out of it, finds some sort of peace. The concept works.
2. The Music. Sure, this is far less complex than most of The Appleseed Cast's material. It's still more original than pretty much everything out there. Though even the drums are sadly dumbed down a little (there's only so much drummer, Josh Baruth, could do with these kinds of songs), the music still leaves its mark. At the time of its release, Two Conversations rode the current emo-goes mainstream wave quite well. The majority of people who only own one Appleseed Cast album have this one, and most of those people were impressed with the musicianship.
3. Hidden Depth. This is found in the title. The Two Conversations could reflect on the love story and the political undertones. The reason the more overt political stuff could have been dropped after the second track is that the relationship could reflect one someone has with their country. Happy, then disillusioned, then at peace. Or Two Conversations could simply refer to the two halves of the album--the first a conversation with someone in a relationship, the second with the same person after the relationship has ended. Anyway, this is far more complicated than Justin Bieber's "Baby."
Overall, my opinion mirrors what happens to the guy in this album: Happy to have The Appleseed Cast back with a new LP, then angry and disillusioned, then at peace, except thankfully, we never, ever broke up. Awesome.

1. Hello Dearest Love 4:48
2. Hanging Marionette 4:05
3. Ice Heavy Branches 3:20
4. Losting Touching Searching 3:55
5. Fight Song 4:13
6. Sinking 4:51
7. The Page 2:37
8. Innocent Vigilant Ordinary 3:18
9. How Life Can Turn 3:32
10. A Dream for Us 6:51


Stephanie said...

i'm not sure what it says about me, but two conversations is my absolute favorite appleseed cast album. it's one of my favorite albums in general.

Nicholas said...

It means you're a girl! Haha.
Seriously, though, before Two Conversations, The Appleseed Cast kind of had a "dude band" reputation, but their fan base really diversified after it. It's also the only one I've gotten Crystal to like. Also, it is very good, so there's that.