Maplewood – Same (2004)

FrontCover1This is the sought-after debut album by Brooklyn’s Maplewood, originally released in 2004. Rising up on a breeze of three-part harmonies and 12-string acoustic guitars, Maplewood evokes a joyride up the Pacific Coast Highway.

Like the scent of night jasmine in bloom, the Maplewood sound wafts from the canyons to the beaches and out into the desert, an ode to a Californian ideal mapped out by such precursors as America, Bread, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Gene Clark, ’70s-era Beach Boys, late-period Byrds, The Stone Canyon Band, John Phillips, Neil Young, Hearts And Flowers, and even CSNY. For the five dudes who make up Maplewood, lost gems like “Ventura Highway” and “Make It With You” evolved from guilty pleasure to buried treasure: in such castoff anthems of mellowness, Maplewood managed to find improbable inspiration.

Call it canyon rock, call it breeze rock, Maplewood is like a desert sunrise, like a dappled afternoon up in the orange groves, like a moon-lit walk on the beach and a swig of dandelion wine with the one you love the most. (by forcedexposure.com)

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Maplewood is a low-key indie rock supergroup with members of Champale, Koester, Cub Country, and Nada Surf gathered together in the spirit of ’70s canyon rock. Their self-titled debut brings back hazy memories of groups like America, Bread, and CSNY. The kind of groups who always seemed ready to break out their acoustic guitars and serenade the sweet hippie chicks around campfires and in hazy bars with heartfelt lead vocals and harmonies, ringing open-chord strumming, lazy tempos, and occasional pedal steel for added melancholy. There are also echoes of more modern bands like R.E.M. on “Darlene,” Lambchop on “Bright Eyes,” and Teenage Fanclub on the chiming “Morning Star.” The spirit of Matthew Sweet also hovers over the proceedings, as he’s been treading these light rock boards for quite a while. So there you have all the influences and connections, all of which don’t mean much if Maplewood can’t deliver the songs. Luckily, they do. Tunes like “Indian Summer,” “Little Dreamer Girl,” and the quiet epic “Desert Queen” sound like they were taken right off a Time/Life Sounds of the 70’s comp. The rest are solid and memorable too. They escape being mere revivalists by investing their hearts into the material. There is no winking or obvious lifting of melodies. They create the feel of the sensitive California ’70s with an easy, sweet manner and plenty of laid-back soul. Not bad for a bunch of short-haired, East Coast fellas. Line them up next to the lovely Autumn Defense and let the ’70s begin again. (by Tim Sendra)
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“For me, there is something wonderfully familiar about the sound of Maplewood. Ever since McGuinn started combining those basic elements—chiming 12-string, soaring harmonies, laid-back California cool—so many years ago, the genre itself (call it what you will) earned the right to be called timeless.
Maplewood are a much newer band, but their sound rings as true to me now as when I bought my first acoustic guitar back in the late sixties. I speak from experience when I say that a lot of work can go into something sounding so effortless. Maplewood understood this from the start. I have always been a fan… from the opening bars of “Indian Summer”—a song we were destined to cover (& we rarely do covers )—to this latest collection.
I was an early convert and it’s clear I’m not alone. The sound that Maplewood wears with such ease has never felt better….
If you’re not already a fan, this new record will soon convert you.
Enjoy.”
(Gerry Beckley, America)

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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. (by tapetenrecords)

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Personnel:
Ira Elliot (drums, Percussion, vocals)
Steve Koester (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
Mark Rozzo (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
Craig Schoen (vocals, bass, guitar)
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Elaine Ahn (cello)
Judd Counsell (drums, percussion)
Kate Hohman (violin)
Joe McGinty (piano)
Geoff Sanoff (chamberlin)
Alan Weatherhead (pedal steel-guitar, wurlitzer)
Jude Webre (bass, wurlitzer)

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Tracklist:
01. Indian Summer (Rozzo) 3.16
02. Darlene (Schoen) 2.32
03. Gemini On The Way (Koester/Rozzo) 3.41
04. Little Dreamer Girl (Koester) 3.38
05. Santa Fe (Koester) 3.14
06. Be My Friend (Rozzo) 2.10
07. Bright Eyes (Koester) 3.23
08. Morning Star (Rozzo) 2.44
09. Sea Hero (Koester) 323
10. Think It Through (Rozzo) 3.12
11. Poconos (Schoen) 2.39
12. Carolina Jasmine (Koester) 4.00
13. Desert Queen (Rozzo) 5.37

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