Album Review: “Make Way” by Rusty Maples

Photo by Fred Morledge

Photo by Fred Morledge

Rusty Maples could’ve easily fallen into that black hole classification of “indie rock.” But they didn’t. Instead, they take a  massive mix of indie sounds to create their own steez–including everything from poppy lyrics and classical cello solos (seriously) to smooth vocals and steady drum beats. With crescendoing opening riffs reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie and a strong, crisp sound that’s perfect for blasting on a roadtrip with the windows down, Rusty Maples has got it going on.

I had the pleasure of checking them out last year at the Gas Lamp when they passed through Des Moines on a tour. I even brought my parents. And we all loved it. This dude-infested jam band is balanced by a sweetie toting a cello. Her sticky sweet vocals give the band a little taste of Angus & Julia Stone (especially “Wake Up Now”).

And they have a sophomore album out, “Make Way.” The Las Vegas-based quintet (with a drummer straight outta Des Moines) is made up of Blair Dewane (vocals/guitar), Ian Dewane (lead guitar/vocals), Mike Weller (bass/vocals), Max Plenke (drums/past drummer for Cleo’s Apartment–more on that another day), and the lady among the dudes Courtney Waldron (cello/keyboard/vocals).

I’m a sucker for quirky key changes (“Runner”) and the occasional falsetto. So, naturally, I loved this album.  The rolling intros start out simple and quickly complicate with the addition of every band member and instrument. This is probably my favorite aspect of the album. “Wake Up Now” starts out with the solid vocals of a radio hit and takes it to the next level of indie cred with borderline shouting and passion-cracked choruses. A great ending note to the album.

Give it a listen if only for the fact that cello sounds amazing when mixed with long guitar riffs. But you’ll find more reasons than that to listen for a second (and third… and fourth…) time. Trust me.

Check out their music on Spotify, or buy it here.


“Make Way”
Better in Blue
Canary in a Coalmine
Wake Up Now

Favorite songs: Runner, Monsoon

If you like… Margot and the Nuclear So-and-So’s, Murder By Death (especially in “Monsoon”), Sea Wolf*

*Please note that these suggestions are totally based on my listener-only understanding of music and will possibly (most likely) completely differ from your own sound-alike suggestions. But hey, that’s why music is so fun.

One thought on “Album Review: “Make Way” by Rusty Maples

  1. Pingback: Q&A: Max Plenke of Rusty Maples (formerly of Cleo’s Apartment) | DSM Band Bombshell

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