On Low Level Owl II, songs gradually transform from subtly melodic indie-pop numbers to zero-gravity space odysseys, with zooming guitars and whooshing wind-tunnel effects. Blending The Cure's penchant for lush intros with vibrant percussion that keeps the tunes from drifting into an ethereal fantasy realm, Appleseed Cast composes songs that seem to function in dreamtime, making listeners feel as if they've been transported on a significant, substantial voyage, even though only six minutes have elapsed back in the real world. Owl II mirrors the complexity and ambition of The Flaming Lips' The Soft Bulletin, but Appleseed Cast eschews that band's quirky lyricism during the few songs in which it even uses vocals, reinforcing the album's otherworldly atmosphere.
However, the groups joining Appleseed Cast at its first local showcase since Owl II's release more than compensate for the missing levity. Headliner Har Mar Superstar, a Jon Lovitz lookalike who croons R&B songs such as "Girl, You're Stupid" and "Baby, Do You Like My Clothes?," ranks with modern music's funniest acts. He's got the voice and the dance moves to pull off the act, too -- he's what might have happened if Beck had maintained his sense of irony instead of deciding that he was, in fact, funky. Cursive isn't really ha-ha humorous, but considering that the second line on its latest EP, Burst and Bloom, is these words lyrically defecate upon songs I boldly claim to create, it's obvious that this Omaha-based group isn't above self parody. However, its brand of emotional hardcore, decorated on Burst and Bloom by new addition Gretta Cohn's cello, has earned Cursive a serious following.