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Mayflies USA

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When Mayflies USA, released their 1999 debut, Summertown, the local four-piece caught a few ears and got decent notices in the press for their pop compositions and layered harmonies. 2000's follow-up, The Pity List, expanded their audience and cemented their place as local paragons of pop with a rock edge--no twee retro power-pop here, but rather another entry into the Superdrag school of Southern melodic rock. Two years later, the band is offering up what could be the pivotal disc in their repertoire, Walking In A Straight Line.

On this album, you can hear the result of hours upon hours of rehearsal and sacrifice; the band's hard work shows in the quality of each and every track. Recorded in Chicago with producer Keith Cleversley (The Flaming Lips, Urge Overkill, Mercury Rev), the Mayflies' sound is more full than ever, due mostly to the group's decision to do things the old-fashioned way, performing take after take until they got a version that sounded right (rather than resorting to Pro Tools and studio "shortcuts").

The title track opens the album with bouncy-yet-driven guitar hooks, drawing the listener in from the opening riff. Which brings up the most unusual aspect of this group: You don't have to be a fan of "power pop" to like the Mayflies, because the arrangements, although seemingly simple, are so damn endearing. "Maylasia" is, for lack of a better description, a perfect song, innately hummable with knockout harmonies. And that, perhaps, is the real hallmark of this group: Strip away the instruments and the vocals stand on their own. It would appear that the Mayflies hold their fates in their hands, being capable of moving on to the opportunities (and headaches) of the majors. But whatever they choose, they've created something here that will make their kids proud years from now.

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