MaplewoodBooker: Carsten Friedrichs
When Maplewood released their self-titled debut in 2004, it was as if a strong, hot Santa Ana wind had blown through New York’s indie-rock scene. Here was a New York band that didn’t care to sound like the Ramones or Television or the Velvet Underground, but rather one that cast its eyes westward, toward the golden shores of California and - unusual for any band in the 21st century let alone one from Brooklyn - to the laidback legacies of the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Flying Burritos, and CSNY.
If fans of the members’ previously well-received bands Nada Surf, Champale, and Koester were a bit thrown off by the breezy turn, it didn’t take long for the harmony-heavy Maplewood sound to catch on, as the group showcased at New York’s CMJ Festival, shared a stage with Liz Phair and Camper Van Beethoven at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, and was soon finding its way into the pages of Spin, The New Yorker, and the Wall Street Journal. Pop Matters declared Maplewood to be “one toke away from the cosmos and harbingers of a movement already afoot. [Their music] makes you want to hit the highway and fly on the ground past the outer limits“. Paste found their first album, which featured guest appearances from members of the Hold Steady and Sparklehorse, to have “a gorgeous, pot-smoking melancholy that perfectly recaptures the easy, breezy sound of vintage FM radio.“ And Newsday proclaimed Maplewood one of New York’s top ten rock bands.
After tours in Europe and shows in the US with Luna, The Sleepy Jackson, Vic Chesnutt, and the Notwist, Maplewood went on to collaborate with America on the legendary seventies group’s 2007 comeback record „Here and Now“ (produced by James Iha from Smashing Pumpkins and Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne). The following year found Maplewood songs turning up in the acclaimed film „Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,“ directed by Sidney Lumet.
Now Maplewood returns with Yeti Boombox, their second full-length release. Recorded mostly in the discontented winter of 2008, the 12-song set picks up where Maplewood left off. Again, it features amazing guest performances, this time from Gerry Beckley (America) and Alan Weatherhead (Sparklehorse). The atmosphere may be a little snowier, and the mood a little spacier, but the Maplewoodian hallmarks are all there: lush harmonies, shimmering guitars, evocative storytelling, and gorgeous soundscapes.