MAPS & ATLASES
In a musical landscape pitted with pop stars and pigeonholes, Maps & Atlases defy easy categorization, choosing to walk their own incomparable path. Beware and Be Grateful builds upon the Chicago-based band's acclaimed Barsuk Records debut, Perch Patchwork, melding their trademark experimentalism with a more direct – though no less beguiling – songcraft. The new album abounds with invention, spanning hymnal harmonies, percolating rhythms, even, in the case of centerpiece track "Silver Self," a full-on guitar solo. Songs like "Remote and Dark Years" and "Winter" are gloriously liquid and lyrical, channeling M&A's maximalist creativity into a truly inviting brand of boundary-busting, asymmetrical pop.
"Beyond the obvious -- the once dumbfoundingly technical group easing into a more relaxed, mature version of originality -- is the audible sense of Maps & Atlases seeking out their true identity as a band, sonic explorations drawing them closer to the heart. Think of a group like Thrice, who sound markedly more like their raw selves on their last few ambient rock records than they did as just another post-hardcore act in the early aughts. Or the Beatles, who began with almost rote Chuck Berry facsimiles and and wound up with 'I Am the Walrus.'" --Billboard
Due out April 9, Beyond Was All Around Me is the final installment in the Young Man album trilogy—a song cycle about youth and growing up that Young Man's Colin Caulfield first conceived in his Chicago dorm room in 2009.
Caulfield's music has been praised for it's "cinematic quality" (NYLON) and his songwriting for being "full of the gentle lyricism and lush, spine-shivering atmospherics" (My Old Kentucky Blog). Fans of 2012's Vol.1, Caulfield's first studio album with a full band, called the collection "instrumental poetry with lyrics caressing the edges, in echoes of reverb, psychedelic trips, and meandering wonder" (The Big Takeover) and applauded its "seriously well-crafted shifts between proggy meanderings and pop hooks" (Filter).
Cannons and Clouds
San Francisco's Cannons and Clouds assert smartly designed, melody-forward indie rock. Their sound, both wistful and dynamic is accentuated by slow-building acoustics, classical harp, and rich multi-part harmonies portraying unfeigned ballads and confession narratives. "There's a casual, understated elegance to the wistful folk rock sounds of local broken-hearts club Cannons and Clouds — it's there in the band's slow-building acoustic drama, in Zachary Blizzard's tender vocals, and in Steven Medd's expressive brushed-drum rhythms. The septet have a flair for orchestrating unhurried meditations on love and loss and touching reminiscences about dear friends in a vein much like that of Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon)." --Bay Guardian