Map of July

First Appeared in The Music Box, November 1998, Volume 5, #11

Written by John Metzger


The members of Map of July call their music "backwater pop," which they define as "pop music gone slightly askew." That sums it up pretty well. What else can you expect from a group that draws as much from '80s bands like R.E.M. and The Feelies as it does from '60s bands like The Byrds, The Beatles, and The Velvet Underground?


The Illinois-based Map of July features guitarist Ian Shaw, bassist Marc Ludena, drummer Greg Bizarro, and Maht Wells, who is credited with vocal noises. The quartet has just released its first disc, an independently-produced affair titled venusoblivious.

Jangly rhythm guitar, bouncing bass lines, and driving percussion blend perfectly to churn out tightly knit, melodic grooves as Wells murmurs his slurred lyrical musings on life and love. His vocal style falls somewhere between Michael Stipe and Morrissey, providing an exemplary counterpunch to the band's more cheerful, upbeat ruminations.

Little Deviation explores a jazz motif, while songs like Secret Ring, Variety Pack, and Waterproof are true pop gems. Hidden under everything is an edgy heartbeat of pure folk-rock. All the songs on venusoblivious are guaranteed to take command of your brainwaves and traverse them indefinitely. It's a delightful blend of music that makes for quite an enjoyable album. This is certainly a band to watch. starstarstar



1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright 1998 The Music Box