New Motels - Domestic Life
Record Label: Prison Jazz Records
Release Date: July 2007
I love setting an atmosphere. A mellow, calm one can put the mind at ease and take away the stresses of everyday life.
As I bust out my recently acquired new headphones to give another listen to The New Motels’ Domestic Life EP, I know exactly what to expect by now, as it’s an EP that has been my soundtrack to many late nights this past Fall. The seventeen minute release contains a mix of pop and folk, but never really strays too far. It does occasionally venture away, and electronica background effects as seen in the catchy number “West Coast Brawl” are also present. But familiarity isn’t always a bad thing. Lead vocalist Josh Levandoski’s voice reminds me of Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, and has just enough laziness to convey the ever-present solemn mood found on the EP.
The EP’s opener, “Modern Thinker” has almost a southern twang that weaves in and out of the acoustic melodies. This is a welcome addition, as the same slow ballads would get quite old quickly. The pop rock present in the tracks “Domestic Life” and “Drama of the Hollywood Scene” harken back to almost a Beatles era, with a really classic sounding guitar tone and uptempo beat. The lyrics of the EP seem to mostly be about getting away from it all, “wanting a day in the sun” as the band puts it, which is all fine by me. Sometimes I like to put music on to relax to, as more of an atmosphere as well. There is an exception in “Drama of the Hollywood Scene” though, with the topics of corruption in Tinsel Town. The stand out line of this track is, “You sang some gospel to turn their attentions away from the modern art / As some agents and actresses snorted cocaine from a credit card.” For whatever reason, it paints a very vivid picture of this scene, and I really love it. As such this happens to be my favorite track of the five.
My only complaint with the EP is even though they mixed it up with different sounds throughout, and I love the band's style, it’s not one that really stands out from other groups. For example, I probably couldn’t tell you who they were if I heard a new song by them on the radio. This is where the familiarity in their sound works against them: They could be any old indie group. With some refinement in “finding” their own sound, their talent will carry them far.
Nonetheless, if you have a chance to pick up this EP, I’d still recommend it. It makes for great, mellow listening, and I will keep it in my collection. You never know when you’ll need to set an atmosphere.