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Maps & Atlases - Tree, Swallow, Houses CD (album) cover

TREE, SWALLOW, HOUSES

Maps & Atlases

Post Rock/Math rock


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chamberry
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Maps & Atlases is band with a good taste of melody as well as musicianship. Right from the start of this EP one is attacked by a storm of guitar notes just to show that they mean business. The music is very spastic, electrifying always upbeat and never assertive. The nasal vocals do help keep the music accessible and engaging considering that there aren't too many math rock bands that uses vocals. Everything on this album moves very quickly changing from theme in mere seconds and the flurry notes the main guitarist / vocalist throws at you doesn't help on calming the situation either. The complexity of these guys isn't something that can scare away the average prog listener and a good thing is that the music isn't self-indulgent or pretentious in any way. The lyrics are weird in nature, but I think it's better to pay more attention on how he sings it instead of what he's singing.

This is a typical EP in length, but I honestly think it's perfect as it is. While being around 25 minutes long (or short depending on what you normally listen to), the music on this EP leaves you satisfied and with a good taste in your mouth that'll keep you playing it for weeks on end. Maps & Atlases are highly recommended for fans of catchy and complex music.

3.5 out of 5

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Send comments to chamberry (BETA) | Report this review (#156491)
Posted Monday, December 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
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Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars One of the upsides of this debut EP from Maps & Atlases is you can get it as an mp3 download for about five bucks. One of the downsides is that it is difficult to gauge whether this is a bunch of former art- school students that is going to make interesting progressive math rock, or a bunch of former art- school students that are going to end up being another precocious and slightly boring indie band. Hard to tell after listening to these tracks, but there are some promising indicators.

First off the complexity and innovation in the guitar work is a far cry from so many mundane indie rockers who sat around college dorm rooms acting pretentious and dreaming of a life spent in a bohemian loll. Unlike the fascinating but rudimentary ‘Chronic Town’ from R.E.M. way back in the early eighties (and the non-musical comparisons seem valid), these guys actually know how to play their instruments pretty well. And unlike many other post-rockers, they can also sing and write some clever lyrics, although most of them don’t make much sense. The emphasis is on turning witty phrases, not on deep philosophical or political manifestos. In fact, the title of the third track “The Ongoing Horrible “ (which appears to be a sarcastic reference to suburban life) is one of the most interesting song titles I’ve heard in quite a while.

The instrumentation though well-done is fairly sparse: guitars, bass, drums. It’s just that these guys do a little more with them than a garage band or a bunch of skate-rockers. The drums are the weak point in my opinion, a bit disjointed and lacking in any kind of perceivable purpose other than to keep time in a loose fashion. Otherwise I found this to be an enjoyable listen, though nothing I’d consider remarkable. All the tracks are pretty short and some like “Stories about Ourselves” and “The Sounds they Make” are not much more than Friday night college-bar fare; but others like the opening “Every Place is a House” and “Songs for Ghosts to Haunt To” are a bit more promising with some indications of thoughtful arrangement.

I’m not sure there’s a clear path to where the band will be able to take their sound if they decide to move into a more mature direction, but it will be interesting to see what (if anything) they come up with next. This is a pretty good album so I’ll say three stars for the effort and mildly recommended.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#161319)
Posted Friday, February 08, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Maps & Atlases' debut EP "Tree, Swallow, Houses" is one of the few so-called *math rock* albums that I really enjoy along with the Slint masterpiece "Spiderland," Hella's debut "Hold Your Horses," and Minus the Bear's "They Make Bear Commercials like This." Hella's sound is an extremely obvious reference point to Maps & Atlases' music; to some extent, "Tree, Swallow, Houses" sounds like a Hella album with vocals recorded on top. But that doesn't mean that Maps & Atlases are necessarily *ripping-off* the tapped-guitars-meets-in-your-face-drums style that Spencer Seim and Zach Hill arguably invented--they're just expanding it. Maps & Atlases' songs are more tuneful than Hella's (mostly due to the vocals of Dave Davison) and many of the rhythmic changes in Maps & Atlases' songs are more metronomic and slightly less *jarring* than those present in Hella's music. In this sense, Maps & Atlases is a more accessible band than Hella and Don Caballero, but their music is still off-putting to those who do not typically listen to math rock. GRADE: B+ (89%)

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Send comments to volta3 (BETA) | Report this review (#221443)
Posted Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Review Permalink

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