Matt Pond PA, the Mayflies USA; the Damn Personals

Lots of revised-history indie rock in town this week. Matt Pond PA, a sextet from Pennsylvania built around a dude named Matt Pond, wonders what the fussy English folk songs of Nick Drake and John Martyn would sound like if written and played by a sextet from Pennsylvania; the answer, as found on The Nature of Maps, the unusually prolific outfit's fourth release since 2000, is fussy folk-pop songs that make often superfluous voices such as strings and keyboards sound like core songwriting elements. Don't underestimate the persistent potential of the high school orchestra. Don't mistake the USA in openers the Mayflies USA's name as mere cover-art signage, either: The chiming guitar-pop on this Chapel Hill band's third album, Walking in a Straight Line, is uncut indie-scaled British Invasion worship, retooled to fit the ambition of four guys who've lived for too long in college-town isolation; when they sing of "tropical birds" in "Malaysia" (which sounds exactly like Teenage Fanclub's "December"), they're just hoping their guitars will get them that far. Swaggering Boston retro-rockers the Damn Personals know about hard English pop and college-town ennui, too--they named their new one Standing Still in the USA, and if they've done that, it's been to better soak in old Elvis Costello and Thin Lizzy LPs. They never really do much more than gesture toward that kind of stuff on their own, but for kids too young to remember the source material, it might do the trick.
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Mikael Wood