Maps and Atlases
Subterranean; Sat 26
Green Music Festival; Sun 27
Maps and Atlases could have had a longer name. Like Maps and Atlases and Bells and Whistles and Horns and Toys, etc. The shaggy Columbia College grads craft unconventional pop, as if they’re rummaging through an adventurer’s library. Hearing all the dings, bangs and whirls, it’s easy to picture four bookcase-covered walls, a room stuffed with globes, charts, wagon wheels, tribal drums, taxidermy and brass pots. Anything within arm’s reach is an instrument to this local quartet, which rocks in intellectualized fits and starts, making the sort of compositional, egghead folk-rock forged by Andrew Bird.
Perch Patchwork, the band’s debut full-length, celebrated with hometown shows this week, is a bustling and whimsical record. It’s impossible to be bored, even if it’s equally difficult to pin down exactly what’s going on. Clean and hyper-arranged numbers like “Israeli Caves” and “Carrying the Wet Wood” zig and zag with fluttering banjos and polyrhythms built from toms and xylophones—like gold-dust prospectors making jazz. This is a proggy Genesis approach to rock & roll, which can be suffocating. But as played out here, seemingly on objects found on Antiques Roadshow, the affair comes off as a playful aural cartoon.
Frontman Dave Davison sings fractured poems with the waterfowl timbre of Dave Matthews. The human core might be obscured, but these pack rats realize there’s fun in building a stuffed Where’s Waldo? world to go digging for it.