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Blending expert harmonies with melodic folk-rock that harkens back to the late '60s and early '70s, Mapache is a California-based duo featuring vocalists and guitarists Sam Blasucci and Clay Finch. Their music is mellow and radiates sunny vibes while also reflecting an emotional honesty that reinforces the strength and quiet passion of their performances. The pair looked to Neil Young, Flying Burrito Brothers, and other legends of rock-born Americana when crafting their self-titled 2017 debut. After joining the Yep Roc roster, they returned in 2020 with their follow-up, From Liberty Street, a home-recorded effort that was both committed and easygoing. 2022's Roscoe's Dream was an expansive 18-song set inspired by the love and loyalty of Blasucci's dog. Blasucci and Finch hail from La Cañada Flintridge in Los Angeles County. The two met while they were both attending La Cañada High School; Blasucci had learned the guitar from his father, who was a member of a band called Pacific Coast Highway, and Sam was already playing with a combo called the Roads when he crossed paths with Finch. The two shared a fondness for bluegrass, the Band, Neil Young, and the Grateful Dead, and they formed a group, the Melvin Doo, who regularly played at local coffeehouses. The Melvin Doo broke up in 2011 when Finch went to college at Chico State, while Blasucci took part in a mission trip to Saltillo, Mexico. The friends stayed in touch, and later, after they relocated to Los Angeles, they would both join the lineup of a Grateful Dead tribute band called Grateful Shred, while Blasucci also played with a group called Yam Clap. In January 2016, they began playing together as Mapache; the name is Spanish for raccoon, and it stuck to the pair when they showed up to play a show after spending the day in the sun wearing goggles, leaving circles around their eyes. The duo's striking harmonies and languid melodies quickly earned them a following, and in March 2017, Mapache released a five-song EP, Live at Mollusk. Just seven months later, the band's debut studio album, simply titled Mapache, was issued by the independent Spiritual Pajamas label. The pair toured frequently and their soft-focus harmonies and country-flavored songs reached a new audience. In 2018, the duo issued new music in the form of a three-song 7" called Lonesome LA Cowboy. The increased attention from these releases was enough to help them land a deal with Yep Roc Records, which issued Mapache's sophomore album, From Liberty Street, in March 2020. The timing of From Liberty Street's release was less than ideal; not long after the LP appeared, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a shutdown of nearly all of America's music venues, and Mapache's touring plans for the year were scrapped. With time to fill, Blasucci and Finch returned to the studio and with help from producer Dan Horne (who added instrumental work as well as running the sessions), they cut an album, 3, devoted to dreamy, acoustic covers of favorite songs, with the eight tunes running from Stevie Wonder to the Allah-Las. In June 2022, with Mapache ready to go back on the road, they released a collection of new songs, Roscoe's Dream, inspired in part by Blasucci's dog of the same name, who had been a loyal companion to the duo since their beginning. A blend of covers and originals, the music confirmed their love of sunny 1970s soft rock, with the performances and production capturing them at their most polished and sincere.
© Mark Deming /TiVo
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