Emo's current crop of stars would sound a lot different without the Appleseed Cast. While Alternative Press and the Warped Tour spent the mid-2000s pimping boy bands with Mesa stacks and straightened hair, the Lawrence, Kan., group drifted off into space. Beloved for their mastery of shimmering ambience and earnest catharsis, Appleseed Cast created the blueprint for bands like Prawn, Moving Mountains and many others who prefer their punk rock a bit twinkly. Here's a guide to the band's rich catalog of full-lengths, which truly has something for everyone.
The End of the Ring Wars (1998)
A confident debut that's rough in all the right places, the buildup and release of "The Last Ring" and "16 Days" are portents of where founding singer-guitarist Chris Crisci's focus would shift as the band emerged from the shadow of Sunny Day Real Estate and Mineral.
Mare Vitalis (1999)
On their most essential album, Crisci and guitarist Aaron Pillar split the difference between their post-rock future and the driving punk that birthed the band. Look no further than "Mare Mortis" and "Santa Maria" for the cascading arpeggios and percussive flurry that defined the band's sound for years to come.
Low Level Owl, Vols. I & II (2001)
The sonic sprawl of this double album is either the most ambitious or most pretentious thing to come out of the genre. Littered with tape loops and washes of noise, it's easy enough to skip ahead to favorites like "On Reflection" and "Steps and Numbers" for a more efficient experience. Either way, it's the platonic ideal of a stoner emo epic.
Two Conversations (2003)
Arguing over the digression to this record's more straightforward and polished sound is a popular pastime of most hardcore fans. A spin of "Hanging Marionette" will help you decide for yourself.
Crisci and Pillar reconvened after a brief hiatus with a hi-fi throwback to the streamlined confluence of styles that made Mare Vitalis pop. "Ceremony" is a post-rock banger worthy of canonization, while the breakneck crescendo on "Woodland Hunter, Part 1" is a thundering payoff that's been fucking with people's car stereos for a decade.
Alongside Mare Vitalis, the mercurial drift of Sagarmartha is the perfect document of the Appleseed Cast in peak form.
Illumination Ritual (2013)
Following the departure of Pillar, Crisci emerged as the band's lone architect. The scuttling rhythms and jangling riffs of "Great Lake Derelict" are classic Appleseed Cast, while "Cathedral Rings" has emerged as a favorite of fans who are just now discovering the band via the praise of the group's much younger acolytes.
SEE IT: The Appleseed Cast plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Caspian, on Friday, Nov. 4. 9 pm. $15 advance, $17 day of show. 21+.