The Phantom Tollbooth

Appleseed Cast/Planes Mistaken For Stars/Race Car Riot
Artists: Appleseed Cast, Planes Mistaken For Stars, & Race Car Riot
Label: Deep Elm
Length: 6 tracks / 24:31

This three-way split of a disc contains some powerhouse indie-core. None of that wuss kind of emo, though; this is fast and furious. All three bands seem to be letting off some steam here, and I like it. The production throughout keeps true to that somewhat lo-fi, messy live-sounding tradition.

First off the launching pad are newcomers Planes Mistaken For Stars with "Staggerswallowswell." Their tumble-thump bass and drums and rolling-river guitars surge along, while semi-low vocals rasp in frustration underneath the music. They only get one track, but it's enough for me to be looking forward to getting their self-titled EP. Love that name.

Race Car Riot blast off second with a single tune with vocals sandwiched in between two instrumentals. "Broken" is kinda repetitive, with ringing melodic jangle-jangle guitars, and "Racing California" is, well, also repetitive, but up and down between melodic picking and cymbol-crashing turn-up-the-distortion moments. "Raincheck" relates the self-pitying sob-story many of us can relate to: "when i looked around / i did not see your face in town / and well i know by now / you didn't want me anyhow."

Appleseed Cast wrap things up, taking out the whole launching facility with the quiet-loud pounding dynamics of "Tale of the Aftermath," which is the conclusion to the Ring Wars story of their last album. My poetry interpretation wasn't good enough to figure out that album, but it seems they're moving on from the tragedy here: "i will not stay / bathed in loss and shadowed heat / which road / which one is the way home." "Remedios the Beautiful" is actually the last track, though, and it's the only quiet one on the whole thing. Soft and pretty guitar tones and soft vocals singing "pain by the pound / i want to help you / but i don't know how." Very atmospheric and smoky, allowing you to relax and take a breather from the aggression of the previous five tracks. Or so you think. After a few seconds of silence at the end, there's an ominous  minute or so of vibrating feedback just to let you know the emotion monster is still beneath the surface of that soft facade.

Even as short as this is, and split between three bands, this EP is an aural experience I play more than any of my other emo/indie rock CDs.

Josh Spencer      8/14/99