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U.S. Maple 

Purple on Time

Wednesday, Dec 10 2003
If punk rock is inspiring because it encourages people who wouldn't normally play music to pick up a guitar and strum a few chords, then U.S. Maple's Purple on Time is the most inspiring album in the history of Earth. Go ahead, pick up a guitar, twang around, and cough into the mike. Voilà! You can be as successful as U.S. Maple.

Purple on Time is the fifth album from this northern Illinois quartet. Is it a piece of shit? Well, it's hard to say. If you listen to The Best of Blondie before playing this record, it'll sound unlistenable. If you listen to Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music and then play this record, it'll sound like bubblegum pop. That abstruse quality, and a few other details, makes this latest U.S. Maple release somewhat interesting. The vocals sound like Don Rickles trying to heave phlegm across the room with his tonsils. The sporadic instrumentation is far more unpredictable than on earlier albums like 1995's noisy classic Long Hair in Three Stages. For all you art directors, Purple on Time's packaging is elaborate: collage poster of the band, 180-gram heavyweight vinyl pressing, miniature lyric booklet, die-cut record sleeve. But be forewarned, buying this record is a lot like hanging with a real estate agent who hands out RE/MAX key chains, Frisbees, and magnets all day: You get a lot of stuff, but it's not a good time.

The opening track, "My Lil' Shocker," is a relatively cohesive song that builds and then releases into a raspy, incomprehensible, psychotically cool-sounding series of grunts. From there, the record begins to chime, meander, and noodle around. Track 4, titled "I'm Just a Bag," is rewarding because at least you can understand the lyrics -- "I'm just a/ I'm just a" -- when they get coughed up. The rest of the pieces on Purple on Time are far too avant-garde to be talked about as rock songs, but feel free to call them doggy doo-doo. Phew! They stink.

In some ways, this is a wonderful album because it shows that making music is not science. It also shows how low the bar is set. If Skin Graft Records and Drag City Records will support U.S. Maple for almost a decade, who's to say you can't trick a label into supporting your eight-year "experimental" music bender. You deserve a foldout poster! Get out there! There's rooooocking to be done!

About The Author

Todd Lamb


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