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Poised to break, Rusty Maples arms itself with new EP, ‘The Western World’

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Courtesy
Annie Zaleski

Four stars

Rusty Maples The Western World EP release show with Black Camaro, Hassan. August 15, 9 p.m., $5. Velveteen Rabbit, 702-685-9645. Rustymaples.com.

The buzz around Rusty Maples has grown steadily in 2014, with the hard-touring Vegas foursome spending chunks of the calendar introducing its music to new audiences and continuing to establish itself in familiar towns. It’s not a stretch to say that the band appears poised to break big on a national scale, what with its appearances at high-profile festivals FloydFest, Treefort Music Fest and Vegas’ own Life Is Beautiful, an opening slot for cult artist Rodriguez in San Diego and now, the stellar new EP The Western World.

Album Art for Rusty Maples' 2014 EP, <em>The Western World</em>.

Album Art for Rusty Maples' 2014 EP, The Western World.

With nuanced production from Alex Rose of Minus the Bear—and impeccable arrangements full of rich dynamics—the collection showcases Rusty Maples’ robust and resonant indie-folk. “Claw” features haunted gang harmonies and mahogany guitar strums, while standout “Mausoleums” is an organ- and harmonica-driven dose of heavy twang that recalls Wilco circa Summerteeth. Yet The Western World is far more multi-faceted than these descriptions might indicate; in fact, the EP transcends its influences by pushing back against boundaries. “Favor the Fake” is a Head and the Heart-y tune with a strident, acoustic-punk vibe, and the falsetto-laden “Rascal” has both askew keyboard burbles and a roots-fried guitar underbelly that nods to rickety ’90s indie rock. The latter song’s lyrics—e.g., “Oh, the land I love/Has been laid to waste/Oh, the western world”—embody the EP’s pervasive and persistent sense of longing for something just out of reach. This deeply felt yearning further elevates The Western World; the results are nothing short of sublime.

Full disclosure: Rusty Maples drummer Max Plenke is a freelance writer whose work appears in Las Vegas Weekly.

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