The best of what’s next

MAPS AND ATLASES- Perch Patchwork (Barsuk Records)

Chicago band Maps and Atlases thrilled a crowd comprised of people nearly as eclectic as their sound at the Marquis Theatre in July. An audience made up of early twentysomethings barely old enough to get through the door mingled with older folks — some of them even accompanied by their young children — to watch a band Paste Magazine recently declared the “Best of What’s Next.”

The crowd seemed familiar with the music and more than happy to cluster around the small stage and pay rapt attention to anything the band was willing to offer up. The only people hanging back sat eating slices of Marquis Pizza, their heads bobbing in time to the music.

Frontman Dave Davison announced that most of the set was made up of music from the band’s new album — their first full-length one, Perch Patchwork — and drew enthusiastic applause from the crowd.

After a few songs, it became clear that Maps and Atlases’ sound is cause for excitement. The experimental, folksy harmonies yielded a sensation I haven’t experienced since listening to the music in Jonathan Demme’s film, Rachel Getting Married.

They have unmistakable indie flair, and Perch Patchwork, highlights it well. As is the case with “Solid Ground,” and “Banished Be the Cavalier,” some of the tracks are feel-good and peppy. Others are involved and even a bit dark; while still others, such as “Will,” prove that well-made music is always compelling.

Maps and Atlases creates music that can really be listened to. As such, it’s difficult to look down on the portion of the audience that booed as Davison said, “This is going to be our last song of the night.” If that isn’t the mark of an engaged audience, I don’t know what is. Amidst the din, Davison and crew consented to play a few more tunes before calling it a night.

Here’s hoping Maps and Atlases will have another installment to serve up soon.
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