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


Maps & Atlases


Post Rock/Math rock

3.29 | 12 ratings

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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.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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