Staff Pick: Maps & Atlases at The Basement

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From the May 10, 2012 edition

Maps & Atlases have left behind their comfortable math-rock home, venturing out on a path of more poppy, synthetic sounds. The time signatures on the Chicago quartet’s new album, “Beware and Be Grateful,” are simpler, the guitar-playing less virtuosic, but my guess is that the band’s current direction will earn them only more fans.

Now that the emphasis is no longer on the instrumentalists’ jealousy-inducing technical prowess, our ears have more reason to focus on Dave Davison’s versatile voice, which fluctuates from a Phil Collins-esque timbre to baritone tones a la The National’s Matt Berninger to the mountain-man, folky warbles you might expect out of someone with such a mane.

Yet when the band plays The Basement on Monday, there’ll be more than a few moments where their chops will have musicians in the audience thinking, “Dayum!” Just because they’re not flaunting it as much doesn’t mean they don’t still have it.