Saturday, June 09, 2018

Paul Maroon Resurfaces

After The Walkmen went on “extreme hiatus” I realized that, next to Hamilton Leithausers’s otherworldly crooning, Paul Maroon’s incandescent guitar was my favorite part of the band. So it definitely softened the blow of their dissolution when Maroon’s playing was a defining feature of Black Hours, Leithauser’s first solo album from 2014. I thought these two men were like brothers and even without a band they would continue to work together forever, or at least close to it. 

This was reinforced when Dear God, a vinyl-only release credited to both to them, came out about a year later. It was typically brilliant, even when Maroon dedicated himself to keyboards instead of guitars on a few songs. They were all good songs and all was right in my little corner of indie world. 

But then Leithauser’s next album came out and it was a collaboration with Rostam Batmanglij, late of Vampire Weekend, and Maroon was out of the picture. I never liked Vampire Weekend but thought the two songs Rostam contributed to Black Hours were pretty good and so listened to I Had a Dream That You Were Mine with an open mind. It didn’t work for me. I wanted Maroon back. Where was Maroon? I googled Maroon and found only old posts about Dear God. I even asked Twitter where he was and was told to seek out this great album called Dear God. I replied that not only did I have the album, but it had been delivered to me personally by Leithauser. That was old news. 

Maroon then became one of my little projects, like that wonderful band Hospitality, someone I would Google now and again to see if they had resurfaced. The trail was cold and I began to worry about his health. As it happened, I should have been worrying about Stewart Lupton, his former colleague from Jonathan Fire*Eater, the band that preceded The Walkmen. When Lupton died last month - far too young at 43 - I decided to check into Maroon again. My dedication paid off! There were new hits! Maroon was back!

The first thing that came up was a new column he’s writing for the AV Club, Ask An Indie Rock Veteran, where he dispenses erudite answers to questions like Do indie-rockers ever get indie-stalkers? or Is recording with a metronome or click track a must? His 30-year career has given him in-depth knowledge about music, production, touring and every other aspect of being a professional musician and he is generous with his wisdom and a damned good writer. I was enjoying reading the column but it was when I got to the end that I got really excited, for there at the bottom of a request for more questions was this line: In the meantime, come listen to my scoring work at

I clicked and found an elegant website representing Maroon’s collaboration with Morgan Henderson, the multi-instrumentalist from Fleet Foxes, whose bass playing was also all over Black Hours. Apparently they struck up a friendship during a legendary (to me) tour that had The Walkmen co-headlining with Fleet Foxes. I saw one of the shows, on the Williamsburg Waterfront with the sunset at our back, and it’s all too easy to imagine collaborations and friendships arising out of the camaraderie we witnessed on stage. 

The website features some beautiful samples of their work, showing off their versatility for potential clients. I especially love the one called Field Recordings, which is a dramatic and highly distinctive vignette that seems to tell its own story even without any visuals. There’s also the happy news that Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, which was scored by Maroon, won the 2018 Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject. That should lead to more of those potential clients! 

Does this recent activity mean that I won’t jump for joy if Maroon and Leithauser work together again? Certainly not, but it does my heart good to see a great musician I admire finding fulfillment and showing the world a new aspect of his talent. Long may Maroon’s flag wave! Now, if I could just find out what Amber Papini and Nathan Michel of Hospitality are up to. I hope they’re OK...

You may also enjoy:
New Americana Pt. 2: Hamilton Leithauser & Paul Maroon
Best Of 14 (Part 2)
Make Time For Black Hours
A Chilly Welcome From Hospitality

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