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Maple Mars -- Beautiful Mess

Maple Mars -- Beautiful Mess (Kool Kat)

Rick Hromadka keeps rolling. His layered bright power pop sounds are married to strong songwriting on a wonderful third album that pretty much picks up where his last disc left off. For all of the gloss and flash and pristine harmonies, many of Hromadka’s songs have real emotional weight. So it’s not just about catchy hooks as there are real feelings coming from almost every track.

Hromadka believes in the power of music (wasn’t that a Triumph or Rush lyric...never mind...), which comes through on track after track. He makes this belief blindly obvious on the lush “Listen”, where a pillow of acoustic guitars lulls the ears, preparing them for the cotton candy melody that carries the verses. It has a bit of a psych-pop feel, with a bass part that anchors the song and keeps it from floating away in the ether. This song is comparable to the best of Cloud Eleven.

One other song, “Between Two Worlds”, merits comparison to Cloud Eleven (another great contemporary pop group led by a man named Rick -- are we at the forefront of the Rick Rock movement?), this time, by way of The Beach Boys. Certainly, the desolate piano intro, with Hromadka singing in the wilderness, has a certain Brian Wilson quality to it. As the other instruments join in, this heads into Todd Rundgren-spiked-with-a-bit-of-Jellyfish territory. The song then moves into guitar land, with a beautiful extended guitar solo (and the above referenced Rick Gallego adding some pedal steel). This song is calculated to give the listener a melty feeling. Right before the fade, a piercing synth part comes in, as if Hromadka is showing you that he had even more icing for this cake.

This track follows his ace cover of a stone cold classic, 10CC’s “I’m Not in Love”. It’s a pretty daring choice, since the song is so distinctive, both as a composition and as a production. Hromadka doesn’t mess with the basic arrangement -- how could he, as it is perfect. Instead, he focuses on smaller details. This is almost like remix, as he finds different places to put in angelic backing vocals. On the whole, this is more restrained, allowing for focus on the elegance of the melody. I should also note how spot on Hromadka is on the lead vocals. As with his own compositions, Hromadka is fully engaged with the material. This doesn’t top the original, but it is pretty swell on its own.

Hromadka still rocks, by the way. “Butterfly Effect” is another thoughtful piece of riffy power pop. Hromadka surveys the damage caused by a relationship that apparently just can’t work, although there has been a lot of hard work to keep it going. I can’t suss out if this is a battle between love and lust (“getting caught up was so exotic/until it all became so chaotic” may be a hint). But he hits the nail on the head when he sings “love will never come painless.” Truer words were never sung. Even with the big flash guitar, the melody has an emotional pull, and that tension works well.

Speaking of flashy guitar, you get a big dose of that on the hyper poppy title cut. If Queen came from California, and didn’t become Jellyfish, this is a song they would have waxed. This song sounds like a sunnier “Killer Queen”, a fact made apparent when Hromadka lays down some Brian May guitar, and borrows some production tricks from that Queen classic. Throw in some Beach Boys styled backing vocals and a head bopping chorus, and we have yet another winner.

Three albums down the line, Hromadka shows no signs of stopping. This album is as good, if not better, than the first two. Buy it now and it’s likely there will be a fourth one just as good. - Mike Bennett(

Maple Mars - Beautiful Mess

#2 for 2008! Shindig Magazine

Circular Haze

David Bash (Amplifier/IPO Founder) "Circular Haze is absolutely, without question, the best album of pure psychedelic power pop you’ll hear this year."


Bruce Brodeen (Not Lame Recordings) "Extremely Highly Recommended!"


Mike Bennett ( "On this second Maple Mars record, Rick Hromadka and his bandmates make the studio a gigantic canvas, and they layer on guitars, backing vocals and keyboards in

equal measure with the numerous catchy bits. This is retrofuturistic guitar



Jeremy Morris (Jam Records) "Here it is!!! One of the best power pop releases of 2003."


Goran Obradovic (Popism) "After spending some time “undercover” as one of the Double Naught Spies and the Maple Mars' debut album a coupla years ago, Rick Hromadka comes back with his best work to date."


Kerry Kompost (Newspaper Taxi) "Definitely a 2003 top-ten!"


Brad Harvey (Big Takeover) "For a real look-see into the formidable writing/production skills of Hromadka, punch in "Home"from Circular Haze, a six-plus-minute masterpiece celebrating the joys of being where you know you belong."


Welcome To Maple Mars


Bryan Thomas - All Music Guide "Welcome To Maple Mars is a fine introduction to Rick Hromadka's prodigious and multi-varied talents as skillful songwriter and musician."


Chris Arnott - New Haven Advocate "We get Hromadka unencumbered and solo for a homecoming set at Cafe Nine. Jon Brion and Wally Gates aren't the only neo-power-pop progenitors from New Haven. Singer/guitarist Rick Hromadka started here too, before moving to L.A. and taking the Jellyfish-laden '90s pop scene there by storm with his bands The Visionaries and The Double Naught Spies."

Kathleen Ceit - New Haven Advocate "They played his music on ER, Third Watch, Power Rangers and Sweet Valley High," she continued, leaning in a little closer to add, "and he's cute, too." She forgot to mention his charismatic yet humble stage presence and witty Jason Falkner-esque paisley power pop prowess to the growing list of charms that was unfolding song after song."


Brad Harvey - The Big Takeover - "All Permanent Press bands have one thing in common: melody. Not just little melodies, or a smudginess of melody, or minute residue of melody, but big, tidal wave-size, freakin' Technicolor melodies. Maple Mars, a.k.a. guiatarist/songwriter Rick Hromadka, is no exception, and obviously has the classic pop albums in his collection to draw influences from."


Robert Silverstein - 20th Century Guitar Magazine "Spotlighting the talented singer-songwriter and guitarist Rick Hromadka, Maple Mars cuts loose with a set of high octane cutting edge paisley-pop that recalls the best spirit of bands like The Raspberries, Klaatu, Jellyfish and Cheap Trick".


Bucketfull of Brains "The more I listen to the CD the more I find to like about it. Well worth shelling out for."


Yeah, Yeah, Yeah Magazine "One of the best of it's genre."


David Bash - Amplifier Magazine "An admirable, groundbreaking disc indeed!"


Album Network "Maple Mars, a brand-new L.A. outfit led by singer/guitarist Rick Hromadka, surprises with their debut effort!"


Not Lame Recordings "Extremely Highly Recommended."


Simon Glickman - Hits Magazine "This L.A. power-pop collective's debut is an inviting batch of hooky, ultra-melodic guitar rock. Throughout, singer-songwriter/guitarist Rick Hromadka delivers the goods with a nice mix of emotiveness and self-aware humor."


.Mike Bennett - "The contest for best debut platter of the year will be quite the battle. This is one of the major contenders."


Rick Cornell - MoMZine - Miles Of Music " And after several trips, you just might think that "The Perfect Song" ("I finally wrote for you the perfect song/It's just a shame that you're not here to sing along") comes close to living up to its title."


Aaron M. Fontana - Entertainment Today (Los Angeles) "Welcome to Maple Mars" is a great tune and so too is "When Atlas Falls," "All Brand New" and "Absolute Zero." Also, be on the lookout for a hidden track; Groovy, man, groovy.


WXXE-FM/WXXC-FM (Syracuse, NY) ". Right from the first track, WELCOME TO MAPLE MARS earns that coveted THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO Thumb's UP!"


Ray Paul (Permanent Press Recordings) "When you hear MAPLE MARS, you'll probably think that Jeff Lynne took members of Jellyfish, Cheap Trick, Foo Fighters and ELO into the studio and came out with this pop masterpiece (he didn't, by the way)!"


Claudio Sossi (Shake It Up) "The brainchild of Rick Hromadka, Maple Mars' debut may not make you forget the brilliant Double Naught Spies (Hromadka's previous outfit) but there's some solid material here that reveals an ambitious talent worthy of more than a few spins."

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