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Milton Mapes, Westernaire (Aspyr Media)
I first heard of Milton Mapes from the unlikeliest of places -- a Starbucks' CD titled "Hear Music, Vol. 10." Yep, I'm officially gentrified. (Though, in my and others' defense, the album included tracks by Cat Power, M. Ward, Fruit Bats, Josh Ritter and Vic Chestnut among other criminally under appreciated souls.) Anyway, Mapes' track on that compilation -- the slow revealing, gorgeously melodic "The Only Sound That Matters" -- makes quite the first impression. Unfortunately, the rest of Mapes' debut release on Aspyr Media doesn't live up to that initial promise. (Sort of like one of those holiday latte concoctions.) Opening track "Great Unknown" hints at good things to come, but for the most part Westernaire is bland, mid-tempo country rock. If you dig the skinny Adam Duritz or the Jayhawks without Mark Olson (if you do, well, there's no accounting for taste) then there may be something to enjoy here. But with the abundance of like sounding material on the market, Milton Mapes is bound to go largely unnoticed until Greg Vanderpool and company can put together a complete record -- one that has, pardon the pun, more to Crow about. Until then, other "Hear Music" artists like M. Ward and the Fruit Bats have brilliant records to check out.