Even in post-rock’s mid-’90s heyday, when Chicago was the genre’s capital, hometown avant-lounge weirdos U.S. Maple flew under the radar, meting out a guitar-noodling, mind-melting postpunk deconstruction. By 2003’s stellar swan song, Purple on Time, the band’s grizzled, croaking sing-speak, rhythmic stutters and nervous tics were no more, its members splintering into myriad post-Maple vehicles including Singer, Miracle Condition and Dead Rider—the most fully realized unit of the bunch.
Launched by U.S. Maple guitarist Todd Rittmann as D. Rider in 2009 with The Mother of Curses, it wasn’t until The Raw Dents (20011) that the band’s freakish sound world took shape.-Rittmann, in a nod to his ex–Maple-mate, singer Al Johnson, crooned in a similarly gnarly howl.
But unlike Rittmann’s former band, antirock is not on the Dead Rider menu. Instead, on the just-released Chills on Glass (Drag City), the group cooks up a taut, mangled soul-jazz animal oozing with sex. Funky rhythms jolt and slink; cosmic synth streaks collide with six-string skronk. Rittmann is the guiding force, his husky growls the brightest star of a Beefheartian universe.—Brad Cohan