steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Rogue Motel

"Daylight Breaking" CD


Genre: pop, alt country

Sep 2 2008

Countrified pop music is what the five members of Rogue Motel are made of, and Daylight Breaking is the first the world will hear from them. And that's good news for the world, because this is really good.

The first thing that strikes you when listening to Rogue Motel for the first time are the vocals - lead singer Matthew Kendall's voice has a vaguely androgynous quality, strangely reminiscent of Tracy Chapman's femi-masculine timbre. This was a little surprising at first, but after a little adjustment its compatibility with the other instruments becomes evident. But the key to Daylight Breaking's success is rather simple: the songs. These are hideously well-written pop tunes - the sort of gems that are virtually unheard of on a self-released title such as this, and indeed the type of stuff that gives even the most hardened critics a woody.

Let's take a look at an obvious best-of-album candidate, the sterling "Smoke and Vines." A crisp but not unruffled piece of pop noir, it drenches a wonderfully infectious melody in moody organ keys, the result boasting a significant Woodface-era Crowded House influence. Also impressive are peppy opener "Hurry Up" and sublimely twangy "The Front." Meanwhile, insanely infectious "Tired and Wasted" is a pop gem that really juices the Crowded House vibe, circa both Woodface and Temple of Low Men. Remarkably for a debut album, none of these songs lets up on the gas - even some of the less immediately memorable tracks ("Fault," strong-chorused "Long Enough") combine a cinematic, country-flecked atmosphere with well-executed songwriting.

And with that, Daylight Breaking is the best self-released debut I've heard in a long time.

rogue motel's myspace


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 10 tracks, 41:10, distributed by the band, released Sep. 23, 2008]