Casual Friday: Secret Country
Librarian-gone-rogue/business researcher Michael Hill and his Austin-based band The New Maps (last chronicled in these pages in February 2012) are back to their off-the-clock ways with a new album for 2013. Titled “Secret Country,” it features 9 new original songs by Hill and a wistful, atmospheric cover of Mark Kozelek’s Red House Painters gem “Have You Forgotten.” Built on a foundation of guitar-and-drums-forward sonics and sturdy, power-roots-pop songcraft, “Secret Country” is largely a product of core members Hill (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion) and Jeff Olson (drums, vibraphone), but one that also features contributions from cellist Dylan Rieck (Balmorhea) and pedal steel guitarist Phil Ajjarapu. Founded in 2011, The New Maps released their full-length debut “These Parts” in 2012. Original bassist Paul Grotevant exited the band later that year, but Dusty Rhodes (Mother Falcon, Sahara Smith) has since stepped in to fill that gap admirably. Now, with a new recording, a new member and new energy driving them, The New Maps are poised to keep pushing their musical boundaries – not to mention shattering a librarian stereotype or two – as they take listeners through the “Secret Country” and beyond. The album is available on iTunes and the title song may be streamed on the band’s Facebook page .