Maplewood is a low-key indie rock supergroup with members of Champale, Koester, Cub Country, and Nada Surf gathered together in the spirit of '70s canyon rock. Their self-titled debut brings back hazy memories of groups like America, Bread, and CSNY. The kind of groups who always seemed ready to break out their acoustic guitars and serenade the sweet hippie chicks around campfires and in hazy bars with heartfelt lead vocals and harmonies, ringing open-chord strumming, lazy tempos, and occasional pedal steel for added melancholy. There are also echoes of more modern bands like R.E.M. on "Darlene," Lambchop on "Bright Eyes," and Teenage Fanclub on the chiming "Morning Star." The spirit of Matthew Sweet also hovers over the proceedings, as he's been treading these light rock boards for quite a while. So there you have all the influences and connections, all of which don't mean much if Maplewood can't deliver the songs. Luckily, they do. Tunes like "Indian Summer," "Little Dreamer Girl," and the quiet epic "Desert Queen" sound like they were taken right off a Time/Life Sounds of the 70's comp. The rest are solid and memorable too. They escape being mere revivalists by investing their hearts into the material. There is no winking or obvious lifting of melodies. They create the feel of the sensitive California '70s with an easy, sweet manner and plenty of laid-back soul. Not bad for a bunch of short-haired, East Coast fellas. Line them up next to the lovely Autumn Defense and let the '70s begin again.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra