Gold Motel, Summer House [2010]

Posted by Greg , Thursday, July 1, 2010 10:26 PM

Gold Motel is the lovechild of Greta Morgan (formerly Greta Salpeter) of The Hush Sound, members of This is Me Smiling (Dan Duszynski, Mike Minx, Adam Coldhouse), and Eric Hehr of the Yearbooks. Their debut LP was inspired by Morgan's 2009 trip to California, which is abundantly clear from the first notes of album-opener "We're on the Run," or a standout track like "Safe in L.A." The band evokes a sound similar to the Beach Boys and the Mamas and the Papas, or more contemporary acts such as She & Him, latter-day Rilo Kiley, or a happier Anna Nalick.

Safe in L.A.:

Duszynski, Minx, Coldhouse, and Hehr are a refreshingly positive influence, channeling Morgan into more upbeat arrangements than one might expect from other female-fronted summery 60s throwback bands. Imagine if Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward spent less time writing sugary sweet pop songs and more time rocking out - well, they'd sound like Gold Motel.  Summer House is damn catchy, and feels like a natural progression from The Hush Sound's last album, Goodbye Blues. On that album, it seemed like the band was trying to make a statement that it was a Serious Band. Unfortunately, this played against The Hush Sound's youthful exuberance, which was always its greatest strength. It's no surprise that the best songs on Goodbye Blues (e.g. "Honey" and "Love You Much Better") wouldn't be out of place on Summer House.

Summer House:

Minor disclaimer: I don't mean to disparage Goodbye Blues.  I liked that record, and if you're interested in Gold Motel, you probably will too.  It's just that Summer House is so much more carefree.  The poignant loneliness that occasionally emerged in The Hush Sound's music is nowhere to be found here (with the possible exception of "Who Will I Be Tonight?").

This shift is a result of what seems like a conscious decision to downplay the piano (always a beautifully melancholy instrument) in favor of sunny guitars.  Piano's minor role on this record is surprising, though, considering Morgan is a classically-trained pianist, and This is Me Smiling play a style of piano-driven power pop similar to that of a more energetic Ben Folds Five.  Still, when the summer of 2010 begins to fade, I'm confident we'll look back on Summer House as one of the most fun records of the season.

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