Please join Big Stir Records as we celebrate the return of MAPLE MARS, with their first album in over a decade and their debut for the label, SOMEONE'S GOT TO LISTEN. The new album, featuring the lead single “Gliding” and last year's teaser “Goodbye California”, is out July 22 and up for pre-order as a deluxe vinyl LP and CD at www.bigstirrecords.com
and everywhere now, and will be streaming worldwide on the street date. The long-awaited record delivers everything fans have been waiting for: it's big, with a bigger sound, bigger hooks, and bigger themes – not only in comparison to the band's own fine catalog, but to any other band in their field – and we at Big Stir expect big things. Welcome back to Maple Mars: the journey they have in store for you is at once familiar and thrillingly new.
MAPLE MARS are long-standing legends on the LA live scene for good reason. They have, in RICK HROMADKA, a world-class frontman, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist, whose 2020 solo record Better Days raked in honors like Power Popaholic's Album of the Year. But it's the chemistry within the band that makes Maple Mars soar onstage and on SOMEONE'S GOT TO LISTEN: the guitar interplay between Hromadka and STEVE BERNS is explosive, RON PAK is simply one of the best drummers on the LA scene with his rare combination of power and empathy for the songs, and newly-minted bassist JOE GIDDINGS brings his well-honed vocal prowess to the deep harmonies that've always been a component of the band's massiveness. Hear it on “Gliding”, as aptly named a song as there could be: vocals and twin guitars taking flight with the syncopated wind of Pak's propulsive drums under their wings. The hooks are huge, and they're all over this expansive travelogue of an album.
Maple Mars have described themselves since their 2001 debut (Welcome To Maple Mars, praised in the pages of Mojo, Entertainment Weekly and more) as “arriving by time machine from the psychedelic era,” and they have all the swirl and swagger to back up that claim. But there's more to their sound than that. You can hear the stadium-sized influence of Wings, traces of the pop-punk drive of Hromadka and Pak's '90s vehicle Double Naught Spies, more than a little Big Star and even hints of glam and prog rock on the new record. The first taste of the SOMEONE'S GOT TO LISTEN's heady brew came last fall with the achingly bombastic, string-laden single “Goodbye California” (a love-hate letter from Hromadka to his adopted home state) and the well of potential radio-ready followup singles is dauntingly deep.
The band and its members have hardly been musically idle since 2001's Galaxyland. Hromadka has released rapturously-received records under his own name and with side project Ruby Free (also featuring Giddings, whose renown as a solo artist predates his joining the MM fold) and Berns has been busy as a successful producer and studio engineer. More importantly, the band has continued gigging and burnished their reputation for bringing arena-level bombast to club stages of all sizes, headlining festivals and opening for the likes of The Tubes and The Psychedelic Furs. It's the power of that collaborative connection that lends effortless but electrifying sonic heft to the new record's tales of metaphorical travel in a dazzling array of forms. The journey is couched in terms nautical (the invigorating “Anchors Aweigh”), cosmic (the driving “Silver Craft”), automotive (in the crashing groove of “Someone Take The Wheel”), aeronautical (“Gliding”) and somnambulistic (“Sleepwalking”, with its glam-pop flourishes)... but always deeply personal.
“Yes, the central theme would be self reflection and transition,” says Hromadka. Indeed, Someone's Got To Listen is a fundamentally forward-moving affair, sweeping the listener along song by song to the ambitious closer “Redemption”, of which Rick says “At some point I’d love to write a rock opera, but this song will have to suffice for now. All about betrayal, anger, and ultimately forgiveness.” You can feel that arrival at a better place in the psych-tinged acoustic idyll “Crooked Smile” and the hope that fuels “Silver Craft”. The record also has time for nostalgic callbacks like the pitch-perfect power pop of “Teenage Dream” and pointed social commentary – the anthemic opener “Useless Information” is more than just a nod to the Stones, and the question “Can there be atonement for the narcissistic liar who preys upon the faithful” (in “Redemption”) is unambiguously of the moment. The sweep and scope of the album encompass it all.
It was Hromadka's deep understanding of the band's power as a vehicle for the right kind of songs that launched Maple Mars back into the studio. “After so many years away from making new music with Maple Mars I thought it was time. Especially after the writing surge I went through,” explains Hromadka, referring to a prolific period from 2018 through 2020 during which personal strife occasioned an artistic renaissance. “Obviously, when one goes through a lengthy divorce, cathartic lyrics sometimes make their way into the songs, and they were flowing. Half of the songs went to my solo album Better Days, and the other half went to Maple Mars.” The careful and collaborative parsing of the material resulted in a win-win: the more contemplative and bucolic feel of Better Days won widespread acclaim, while powerful tunes of transition, transformation and travel went to the band.
“This is a much more cohesive album from an actual full band. The members of Maple Mars were a lot more involved in this record than any of the previous albums. In the past it’s basically been me doing the lion’s share of recording and mixing. This album was by far much more of a band effort, with Steve Berns doing most of the heavy lifting and mixing.” The crackling dynamic makes the new album the best and biggest in the band's already illustrious career, and the title brings it all home. Someone's Got To Listen indeed, and with this fresh clutch of invigorating songs and their commanding stage presence intact as they return to the live scene, MAPLE MARS can be sure that fans worldwide are going to do just that.