Music » Music Features

Map quest

by

comment

Having formed at a Chicago art school, alternative-rock outfit Maps & Atlases has never shied away from lofty goals or pushing itself creatively. In the early days, that meant making math rock fun. Now, it means channeling the members’ inner Marty McFly.

“It’s tough to make an album that exists out of time,” singer and guitarist Dave Davison said of the band’s latest, Beware and Be Grateful. “The sound is something that is from the not-too-distant future, but not futuristic. We didn’t want to sound like David Bowie, but wanted to make something that sounded new.”

It’s only fitting, then, that the record’s title sounds as if it could have been borrowed from an episode of Star Trek.

“It felt like a parable, like it had something to do with what we were making,” Davison said. “The unexplainable feeling kind of suited this album. There’s a feel of alienation, but warmth and connectivity.”

The final product sounds something like the backwoods of West Virginia circa 3012, a folksy but forward collection that skews more toward 2010’s Perch Patchwork.

“It’s been an ongoing evolution,” Davison said. “We wanted to make music that was fun and people could connect with, but also interesting and experimental and challenging for us. As time goes on, we’re just figuring out new ways to walk that line and finding concepts that fit that.”

That
ever-evolving sound has given the band the opportunity to share the
stage with acts as varied as Matt and Kim, mewithoutYou and Russian
Circles, although the acclaim for Beware and Be Grateful has seen Maps & Atlases headlining its most recent treks.

Released
by Barsuk Records (Starlight Mints, Ra Ra Riot), the disc even features
a video treatment by Oklahoma’s own Délo Creative, which blew up a car
in the video shoot for the single “Remote and Dark Years.”

“We
knew they were capable of doing some really cool stuff, so we just let
them do it,” Davison said. “It’s nice to let someone else just add to
the concept of the song.”

The rest of this year serves as a victory lap through the U.S., celebrating the band’s latest success.

“We
set out to do something that was ambitiously different and challenging
for us,” Davison said. “I’m glad that we did that and pushed ourselves
in the way that we did.”

Latest in Music Features

Add a comment