Spotlight: Maps & Atlases

Embracing New Sounds and Taking Creative Risks

Genre: Indie Art-Rock

Hometown: Chicago, IL

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Artistic Approach: Propagating rock prowess with honest pop sensibilities.


Since their inception in 2004, Windy City quartet Maps & Atlases have been an amicable and ever-evolving entity of the rock-persuasion, featuring abstruse melodies, keen rhythms and a sharpened sense of lyrical wit. Comprised of Dave Davison, Shiraz Dada, Erin Elders and Chris Hainey, the group is set to take their mercurial blend of post-folk technical rock on the road, touring Europe this spring before embarking on a 31-date summer stretch through North America in support of their sophomore album.

On songwriting: “Different from our usual tight-knit, puzzle piece approach to songs, with this record we would feel out the mood and ride it as long as we could.”

Released last month on Barsuk Records, Beware & Be Grateful is one part organically dynamic rock, one part open-heart croons, and a third part of vivaciously sexy dance quarrels. This triptych is a product of the band’s growing creative patience and adroit musicianship. “There is a real cohesiveness to the record,” says guitarist Erin Elders. “We let the songs run wild a little bit before tying them up. Different from our usual tight-knit, puzzle piece approach to songs, with this record we would feel out the mood for a song and ride it as long as we could.”

“Over the last year we have been working on material for this record and once we had a decent amount of ideas we spent a few days at Dave’s [Davison – vocals/guitar] parent’s house in Indiana, where [producer] Jason Cupp brought a bunch of keyboards he found at a farmer’s market. We used those to work out the songs before breaking up the actual recording into three separate sessions at ARC studios in Omaha.” He adds, “What is really exciting about the songs on this record is that we really embraced some sounds and ideas that our younger selves would have thought, ‘No way will I ever wanna have a wah guitar part or a blistering guitar solo in one of our songs,’ and that element of personal and creative risk was really fun for us.”

He finishes by adding, “We are always pushing ourselves and each other creatively, constantly interested about what will come next; it’s all about exploring our limits and trying to keep the music interesting, as musicians and as a band.”

Photo by Christopher Hainey

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