Sagarmatha (Vagrant Records/Milita Group, 2.09)
Byline: Ed Rose is back!! Yes. Yes. Yes and Yes.
For: Explosions in the Sky, Yume Bitsu, Ed Rose produced Appleseed Cast
This album marks the first of what I like to call the Triple Convergence: three of my favorite bands from my formative years, Appleseed Cast, Thursday, ....And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, have all released new albums hailed as their "comeback" after two mediocre albums. Appleseed Cast have reached a mythical status in my mind. I would lie awake at night in high school playing Mare Vitalis and Low Level Owl over and over again. There was something unmistakably magical about those albums. There was a hypnotic beauty that I could never put my finger on, the swirling guitar parts, the affected percussion, the buried vocals, both albums were an escape to a world completely imagined in sound. Then something happened, Appleseed Cast shifted their dynamic the straight forward pop hooks on songs like "Forever Longing the Golden Sunsets" and "Blind Man's Arrow" were pushed to the front, Chris Crisci's raspy vocals were pushed to the front of the mix, everything was, just, different. One could argue that these missteps were a result of losing their producer Ed Rose, responsible for shaping the subtle soundscapes of their previous albums or a band coming off the staggering success of creating a genre transcending album trying to find their footing. The good news is Ed Rose is back, the drums once again take center stage, Chris Crisci's vocals serve as another instrument, and most of the songs clock over the 6 minute mark. This is all great news for Appleseed Cast fans. The album is gorgeous every element of the AC glory days are intact, however, there are a few new tricks I could take or leave. The electronics explored in the previous album Peregrine show up every once and awhile, stick around a little bit to be distracting, and then disappear into another signature crescendo. Pianos and glockenspiels are buried around every corner, a nice reward for repeated listening, and... AC prove that they can actually write a decent pop song with "The Summer Before". Heres hoping the final 2 bands in the Triple Convergence can deliver.