usmapleband1The Correct ‘Yeah’: U.S. Maple’s Deconstruction of the Voice
by Dan Ruccia, Ph.D. Duke University

U.S. Maple was a Chicago-based rock group that existed from 1995 to 2007. During this time, they released five full-length albums and appeared on a few singles and compilations primarily on the Skin Graft and Drag City record la¬bels, two labels known in the late 1990s for releasing noisy, experimental rock. The group consisted of singer Al Johnson, guitarists Mark Shippy and Todd Rittman, and drummer Pat Samson (who left the group in 2001 and was replaced by Adam Vida). Their music is related to what Marc Faris calls the “Chicago Sound,” an offshoot or outgrowth of various punk and independent rock scenes that tends to use non-standard song forms, unusual meters, and diverse rhythmic layering sen¬sibilities, recorded with a distinctive set of production values.i But U.S. Maple’s sound was unconventional, even by the standards of the late ‘90’s inde¬pendent music scene. A typical U.S. Maple song could easily be heard to consist of shifting meters, randomly splattered guitar notes, chord injected with seemingly random dissonances, a vocalist who rasps and mutters more than he sings; and songs that refuse to coalesce into anything that might overtly resemble a pre-conceived form. As an example, listen to the beginning of the song “Through with 666” from their 1997 album Sang Phat Editor.

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