When some brave soul finally decides to write the book on deconstructionist rock n’ roll, it seems that U.S. Maple may finally get the attention they so rightly deserve. I’m not sure how lucrative this particular endeavor would prove, but it’s possible that authors are running out of genres to highlight in their writing. Whatever the case, until this book gets published, I assume the Windy City quartet will unfortunately remain shrouded in a cloud of noise rock obscurity. Considering I currently find myself in a position of unlimited power and influence here at the bloglin, I figured I could provide the band some much-needed ink, and quickly highlight their killer debut album.
According to the band’s now defunct website, members of the group had claimed that they sought to “erase Rock and Roll from their collective minds” and ”devise a working method for reorganizing the genre, keeping only what they felt were its most important core elements” when forming up. While I’m not sure exactly what they were getting at here, or whether or not they ever actually ended up reaching their supposed goal, I’m relatively certain of one fact. The process of listening to Long Hair in Three Stages within the confines of my own bedroom almost always makes me spaz out and throw punches into thin air (aiming at nothing in particular).
As far as I’m concerned, there may be no better litmus test, when it comes to judging the validity of a rock record, than to see what kind of reaction it elicits when taking a listen in private. Generally if something violent happens, I think it’s working. While the material found throughout Long Hair may come off as slightly less aggressive or heavy-handed than some of the more punk influenced noise records that were dropping in the mid-90′s, one could still certainly throw a hissy fit to this stuff. Basically, you don’t need to own a closet-full of black t-shirts, and crave the grime of a mosh pit to really get U.S. Maple… You probably have to be a pretty weird dude though.
Long Hair in Three Stages was the direct result of a melding of two members from the group Shorty, and two members from the band Mercury Players. Al Johnson, Marc Shippy, Todd Rittman, and Adam Vita all came into contact at DeKalb’s Northern Illinois University at some point in the 90′s, and contrived the mission statement that I had described earlier in the text. Their first record was put out by the small label Skin Graft, and was produced by Chicago indie-rock demigod Jim O’Rourke. If you’re not in the know, O’Rourke is best bros with Jeff Tweedy, cut his teeth in the seminal post-rock outfit Gastr Del Sol with David Grubbs, and was also an on-again-off-again member of Sonic Youth for a long period of time throughout the aughts. As you could imagine, the dude’s involvement in the recording process added a higher pedigree, as well as little bit of gravitas to the first LP of this newly hatched band.
Anyway, I get the feeling that Long Hair may have initially slipped through the cracks because it never exclusively appealed to a single fan base. U.S. Maple certainly didn’t embody the delicacy or deliberate nature of a group like Slint, and they were also creating sounds that were far more strange and avant-garde than anything Thurston Moore and the gang were releasing at the same time. I suppose the gibberish spouting band could be compared to a man without a country. With any luck, however, the music-headz of this digital age we currently find ourselves immersed in will wise up to these weirdos, and pick up the baton.