I went to the Wikipedia page for Mazes, because I’m a superhero researcher, and found the only related categories listed at the bottom are the underwhelming “English indie rock groups” and “Musical groups established in 2009.” Not that I expect bands to cultivate incendiary related categories like “Bands who’ve summoned satan on stage” or “Musical groups that pre-date dinosaurs,” but those Mazes tags reminds me how little I know about them and how uninterested they seem to fill in those gaps. They have a basic presence: they’re an indie rock band, they’re forwarding the GBV DNA sequence, their music embodies a lot of cross-Atlantic reciprocal musical evolution.
I listened to last year’s Ores & Minerals on the recommendation of Tom from Bedford Falls, who knows the best bands, but this year’s Wooden Aquarium is the Mazes album I will keep spinning. It’s got the flow and clarity the earlier albums only suggested. Pavement-y on the “Range Life”/”Shady Lane” end of the spectrum, the record just breathes fresh air. It’s got the crunch and and twang of the great Byrds originals and 90s niche bands like Eugenius. The guitar hooks are great, if a little hard to distinguish from each other over the course of thirty-three minutes. But that just makes it a more cohesive set. If you like one of the songs below, you’ll love the whole album. It doesn’t stretch all that much, which is what I’m saying is best about this album–it hooked on the groove and it’s ingrained. When Mazes got spacier on Ores & Minerals, you could find yourself in weird jam you never asked for and who knew when you’d get back to the “hard, nut-like word” of the song. Wooden Aquarium is all nuts. They’re awesome in their “basicness”–which just means all I need to know about them is that they make awesome albums.
Pair with the last Water Liars album for a pretty radass day.