Headlining back to back nights at two of Chicago’s premier venues is goth pop act John Maus. Taking over Pilsen’s Thalia Hall Monday followed by underground music’s beloved Empty Bottle Tuesday - this Minnesotan’s lo-fi performances are not to be missed.
Attentively listening through John Maus’ six releases (via Ribbon Music/Domino Records), I found myself hypnotized by the instrumentals. Debut Songs (2006) features track “That Night”, which harnessed my attention immediately as the unexpected indie guitar added a breath of fresh air. Integrated with purposeful rhythmic randomization, impressive synth, and upbeat bursts - synth pop welcomed its newest artist to watch for.
Maus dove into new realms of ambiance with follow-up Love is Real (2007). With first impression being more soothing and polished than prior, the emphasis of bass stays top of mind for listeners. Tracks like “My Whole World’s Coming Apart” have bass lines that rip while song “Don’t Worship The Devil” compels anyone to get up and dance. Wrapping the album with dance tracks and “Old Town” as a nod to Nirvana, I was intrigued as to what was to next.
Reaching the equivalent of landmark status, Maus’ third record We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves released in 2011. A fan favorite, the album kicked off with a neat introduction, followed by hopeful tones, outstanding groove, and countless nuances. The minute “Hey Moon” kicked in with a breathtaking duet, I understood why many deem this as Maus’ best album.
Taking time to live in rural Minnesota for six years, the experimental musician focused on creating instruments and finishing academia with a focus in political philosophy. A true enthusiast of DIY, Maus records in one of his bedrooms to ensure his music holds its rawness. It’s no surprise that acts like John Maus have influenced a plethora of bands today including the on-the-rise Preoccupations.
His love for baroque, orchestrated arrangements, and variety of pop shines from his authentic persona. Maus’ latest releases Screen Memories and Addendum were developed over his time in the midwest. Self-describing Screen Memories as more thought over and Addendum as what came easier, seeing John Maus perform livens the character of his music.
Find ways to keep up with the artist down below.