Music » Livewire

U.S. Maple

With Spy vs. Spy. Saturday, September 7, at the Grog Shop.


Verging on post-rock, U.S. Maple's more-tension, less-release catalog can be challenging if not inscrutable, but a thorough examination of the band's repertoire turns up covers of AC/DC's "Sin City" and Dion & the Belmonts' "The Wanderer" -- albeit aggressively deconstructed takes on the tunes. So we asked the Magic 8-Ball, "But is it art?" And it said, "All signs point to yes."

Just look at this band's pedigree. Two of Maple's early albums were produced by postmodern composer Jim O'Rourke, who officially joined Sonic Youth recently. Michael Gira, singer-founder of the brutally somber Swans, produced 2000's Talker LP, which Maple quickly followed with the Acre Thrills album. Todd Rittman and Mark Shippy's near-chords and live-wire guitar lines trace back to the Byrds, and consistently gooey production yokes them with Adam Vida's resounding, arrhythmic percussion. Al Johnson's hushed, shaky vocals evoke Tom Waits on an exceptionally quirky day. Some of Maple's studio tracks seem borderline improv, but its live shows feature improbably tight presentations of the songs. Think that angular, mathematically informed rock quickly becomes impersonal and contrived? Here's an organic, equally complex alternative.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.