Get local news delivered straight to your phone
We can't make City Paper without you
Mother May I now has an upstate New York address, but this post-Nirvana power-pop ensemble “is definitely a D.C. band.” That’s what drummer/producer Rob LeBourdais told the Baltimore-based Music Monthly last month, and the thank-yous in the booklet with the trio’s Splitsville are full of local names. Recorded at Baltimore’s Oz with engineer Eli Janney, the album is the band’s first longplayer for Columbia, whose signing of the Mothers led them back to their native Rochester area, where living costs are lower. (When its royalty checks outpace its expenses, the trio hopes to move back to Washington.) With the current new-band glut, the Mothers’ success is far from assured, but Splitsville is an appealing album. Principal songwriters LeBourdais and guitarist/singer Damon Hennessey have crafted an aggressive, tuneful sound that’s (usually) not blatantly secondhand. The opening la-la-la’s of “In Between” are obviously derived from the Kinks’ “David Watts,” but this band is not enlisting in anybody’s ’60s revival. Hennessey’s noisier guitar gambits are grungeworthy, and on songs like “Teenage Jesus” he plays hard melodic riffs in a manner that almost qualifies as Dischord-ant. Such tracks as “Dick and Jane” and “Painted On” contain both soaring choruses and metallic flourishes, and don’t sound forced or overloaded.