Though they are relatively young men, when I listen to their fourth and latest full-length, Acre Thrills (Drag City), U.S. Maple sound rather old. More specifically, they sound crusty, like the character in front of the convenience store: a drooler, a mutterer, and a pee-on-selfer who, when actually engaged in argument, spits out flashes of brilliance between splatters of tobacco juice. Drummer Pat Samson, singer Al Johnson, and guitarists Todd Rittmann and Mark Shippy give the illusion at times that they’re all wandering off in completely different directions, only to land in just the right groove at exactly the right time, as if drawn there like migrating birds. And lyrics like “you terrify with milk…and wheat…and that’s trouble” and “your blood-style is cream…make your bedroom great,” drop on the back pathways of the psyche with dirty flawlessness. I’m not sure if I still think they’re best understood as a live band, though they can certainly seduce and alienate a crowd, the instrumentalists’ cold, sinister dissection of rock ‘n’ roll grinding against Johnson’s spastic, sweaty, delightfully anachronistic Every-Iggy act. Opening are Bonnie “Prince” Billy (aka Will Oldham) and the Marquis de Tren (aka Dirty Three guitarist Mick Turner), who recently collaborated on an EP. Saturday, May 26, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Todd Rittmann.