The Appleseed Cast just can’t be complacent with the indie-rock genre. For almost a decade, the Kansans flew under the mainstream rock radar, injecting their Midwest emo-rock into the veins of angst-addicted teens jonesing for another hit. Though they’ve garnered ill-conceived comparisons to Radiohead from rock magazines and websites such as All Music Guide, and even gained blog superstardom this past summer after false rumors of lead singer Christopher Crisci’s suicide – Appleseed still haven’t managed to escape the unfortunate sales figures of indie rock.

Jessica Boullion
Between rock and the mainstream, The Appleseed Cast struggle. (Courtesy of The Militia Group)

Now on their sixth full-length album, Peregrine, Appleseed decides it’s time to make a mass exodus out of the indie-emo world and into the mainstream rock universe by stuffing generic alternative Clear-Channel music into their own quaint package. It’s a clear sign that the band’s aspirations don’t lie in creating adventurous music, but rather in trying to make mad scrilla by appealing to the TRL audience.

Part of the intrigue of The Appleseed Cast has always been their way of readjusting their image and evolving their line-up – the band has been playing musical chairs, replacing drummers and bassists with every new release. From the dense, atmospheric guitar patterns of The End of the Ring Wars to the more traditional electronic, emo-alternative of Two Conversations, Appleseed manage to nearly cover the complete spectrum of indie rock.

Peregrine shows another shift in the band’s style toward the familiar schtick of more popular bands like, say, The Killers. And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then these guys are dishing out a ton of compliments.

At least half of the tracks on Peregrine make a direct connection to some other popular music superstar. The beginning of “Here We Are (Family in the Hallways)” is a carbon copy of the prelude guitar chords to Death Cab for Cutie’s “Title and Registration.” A vocal style stolen from Gavin Rossdale – pre Gwen Stefani – shines through on “Sunlit and Ascending” as well as “Mountain Halo.” And although “Halo” floats along with dreamy, synthesizer-heavy bleeps that are tailored for the next Hummer commercial, it isn’t an awful track — it just belongs on a Bush album from 10 years ago. Even a song like “Woodland Hunter, Part 2” has the band selling out to an adult contemporary market. Crisci’s words aren’t all that far off from Sting’s recent efforts, even furthering the band from establishing their own sound.

When Peregrine does take flight, it comes on the wings of creative instrumentation. “Silas’ Knife” features an opening of electronic synth-buzz and clacks reminiscent of an infant’s mobile, but is quickly met with haunting lyrics (“Keep hoarding all your ghosts in fortresses”) and a sorrowful acoustic guitar interlude that flows into a Polish inspired, electro-accordion riff.

The Appleseed Cast don’t draw any clear line between a band attempting to create pre-packaged, shitty rock hits and a band brushing against the void of their own musical identity. There’s no progression past the mundane, TRL world on Peregrine, only misguided ambition.

The Appleseed Cast
The Militia Group

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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