They come a dime a dozen: singer-songwriters, toting acoustic guitars and an array of well-worn clichés. Fortunately for Weather Maps, leading man and singer-songwriter Jimmy Stofer is working from the same palette as some of the best in his game. Bearing the clear influence of Bon Iver, particularly in his falsetto vocal timbre and phrasing, Stofer writes simple, pretty songs, with hushed arrangements that twinkle with orchestral flourishes, adding a touch of sentimentality that never hits overkill. Yet unlike Bon Iver, Stofer's not afraid to groove: Standout track "Wichita, CO" maintains a solo guitar and a quiet tension that builds until about minute two, when it releases into a syncopated, Radiohead-like breakdown that carries through until just before the end. The danger, of course, is that music this easy to listen to is also easy to tune out, but for the astute listener, Places (slated for release on Thursday, August 5, at the hi-dive) will yield some pleasant surprises.
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