They are an incredibly talented quartet from The Windy City that features pulsating drums, uniquely rhythmic guitars and a funky bass accented by the vocals from guitarist Dave Davison that a good friend of mine described to me once as,"sounding like the closest thing to a saxophone that I've ever seen and I've ever heard" when Maps & Atlases opened for California's insane prog-rockers RX Bandits during the band's final tour at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA this past August. That being said, this band is beyond your typical math/indie/progressive rock sound with their second album, Beware And Be Grateful.
Other than Davison's sax-esque vocals and otherworldly guitar playing, Maps & Atlases consist of Shiraz Dada plucking the bass, Erin Elders on the dueling guitar and Chris Hainey picking up sticks and slamming them on the drums, rounding out a beautiful sound that you won't hear from any other band. The group came together while all four musicians were attending Columbia College Chicago in the fall of 2004 and they haven't looked back, continuously touring and sharing the stage with acts like Minus The Bear, Ra Ra Riot, The Fall of Troy, mewithoutYou, Foals, Portugal. The Man and many others.
"Vampires" is a rocking track that reminds me of 70s rock bands like T. Rex and Television, with pounding drums and systematic guitars that even will make the most pretentious headbanger start going crazy. "Silver Self" features a choir-like introduction with all the band members voices syncopating perfectly, then going into a series of dance beats and ending with a brain-fizzing guitar solo that will leave you astonished. "Fever", for lack of a better word, is feverishly amazing and definitely seems like it has what it takes be an underground hit. "Old And Gray" has a new wave tinge to it, sounding as if Tears For Fears would have written a similar song without the guitars and sticking strictly to the beats. "Winter" is a great example of how Davison's and Elder's guitar technique can be so complex and simple at the same time, with such speed and precision that will blow your mind. As I always exclaim, don't take my opinion as gospel, log off after your reading, grab a copy of the album and decide for yourself.
Currently, Maps & Atlases are about to embark a 12-date European tour of The United Kingdom, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and France starting at Cooler in Bristol, England on April 16th and ending at Fleche D'or in Paris on April 28th. A few weeks later they'll be back in the good ol' U.S. of A starting with their homecoming show at Metro in Chicago on May 11th and ending the 33-date tour at Amsterdam Hall in St. Paul, Minnesota on June 19th. For live music fans in 990WBOB's neck of the woods in New England, Maps & Atlases will be back at The Middle East on May 18th. Until then, hit up your local record store or surf the internet and pick up Beware And Be Grateful, the new album from Maps & Atlases. It'll be a purchase you won't want to pass up.
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