PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Mazes: Ores & Minerals

Nineties style indie rock for people who missed it the first time around.


Ores & Minerals

Label: Fat Cat
US Release Date: 2013-02-12
UK Release Date: 2013-02-18

The world has a seemingly inexhaustible thirst for low-fi indie rock. If it sounds like the dudes in question smoke a lot of pot, don’t wash their hair much, and record exclusively on their older brother’s old eight track, then there is an audience ready to gobble that record right up. And who am I to judge? I spent a great deal of time in my 20s listening to old Pavement and Guided by Voices albums. Indeed, I still enjoy a little Brighten the Corners or Bee Thousand from time to time. For those of us who came of age in the 1990s, there is something unquestionably, compellingly nostalgic about stuff that sounds like fuzzy, late afternoons hanging out with your friends while empty Mickey’s wide-mouths accumulate on the front porch railing and old Sonic Youth and Sebadoh records serenade from an old boom box. But this begs the question: is it really necessary for new, young bands to sound like this in 2013? I suppose that it is not for me to answer this question, but I will say this: Mazes’ new album Ores & Minerals is starting to grow on me both in spite of, and because of, my ‘90s indie rock nostalgia.

The thing is, Mazes are from England, which complicates things somewhat. There is something deeply, profoundly American about the style of music Mazes play. It is one thing to extricate this sound from the 1990s and insert it into the second decade of the new millennium, but removing it from both time and space is doubly disorienting. But perhaps this is the point; isn’t this messy, half-assed, “let’s finish this track and then go smoke another bowl before the Simpsons comes on” kind of indie rock supposed to be kind of disorienting? But all of this genre speculation and sorting through of nostalgic impulses risks glossing over the fact that Ores & Minerals is a lot of fun to listen to. These songs are catchy, care-free, and full of hooks. Mazes can be bouncy and repetitive in the best way, suggesting not just a penchant for Pavement, but also Neu! This is 90s low-fi indie rock that you can dance to, and I bet more than a few kids will do just that when they get their hands on Ores & Minerals.

It would be fair enough to compare Mazes to a contemporary band like Wavves, although for my money Mazes are far more enjoyable. Mazes do not have the lyrical ingeniousness of a Steve Malkmus or Robert Pollard, but they are better in this department than the jaded, often tedious rambling of Wavves’ Nathan Williams. Does this stuff really stand up to the apex of ‘90s indie rock that it is paying homage to? No. But it is jangly, and pleasant, and perfect for the approaching summer season. It is hard for me to gage how kids who have never listened to Pavement or Guided by Voices might react to this stuff; the genre references are waist deep and smell of stale beer. But it is totally possible that some 18-year-old kids will discover Ores & Minerals and decide that it is a back-to-basics soundtrack to their summer.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.