West End Motel: Only Time Can Tell

West End Motel, Only Time Can TellWest End Motel: Only Time Can Tell
Everyone has multiple sides, and it sounds like Mastodon’s Brent Hines has a very chill side as evidenced by his side project, West End Motel. The group recently released their second album, Only Time Can Tell. While you can hear a hint of the metal influence on some of the guitar parts on later songs, the first few tracks are far from metal and suggest a laid back surfer kind of attitude. In fact, “Burn It Down,” the opening track, features a Casio keyboard island beat in the background with some guitar and horns thrown in for good measure. “El Myr” has the same kind of vibe. Definitely different, even with shouted vocals it works as a great relaxing song. How different? The band’s Facebook page explains that “[t]he music is honest, like a Filipino kid tap dancing in the wind.” Not quite the description I would have come up with, but let’s go with it.

The vocals are unique, sometimes shouted, sometimes indistinguishable, and sound a little slurred on some tracks. Everything started to make sense when the band’s Facebook page explained that Brent Hines and singer Tom Chesire met under a bridge in Atlanta where they panhandled and drank cough syrup together. They began making music with an acoustic guitar, a bucket instead of a drum, and lots of booze. “Burn It Down” mentions having a coke in the singer’s pocket and pills that aren’t from a doctor. I see where the honest part of that tap dancing kid simile is coming from. Slurred vocals start to seem de rigueur. On repeated listens, the vocals become charming and really fit songs like “If I Only Had Tomorrow (Second Chances)” with lyrics about lost relationships. On “Burn It Down,” the singer sort of sounds like the obligatory angry man at the bar, but it still works.

As mentioned earlier, there are more hints of metal on later songs, like the guitar on “Bite.” It’s a softer version of the face-melting guitar you would expect in metal and it works well. “Only Time Can Tell” is heavy on keyboard-created organ-like sounds, electric guitar that would fit well into one of Megadeath’s softer songs (without a crazy solo,) and vocals that sound like present-day Ozzy Osbourne’s speaking voice. The album draws from many different genres and the band lists their genre as “Country/Punk.” “Forgiveness” has a bit of a Santana-esque sound to it. The loosely Wizard of Oz-inspired “Witch Is Dead” has the backing vocals, sha-la-la’s, and the saxophone of a ‘60s pop song, then breaks into some surf-y guitar. Despite the many different influences packed in, the album works well as whole. There are enough unifying elements to the songs, such as the guitar style, the rough vocals, and the keyboard effects, to tie each song together into a complete album.

None of the songs really seem like a great track to which a Filipino child could tap dance in the wind, but then again, I’ve never seen a Filipino child tap dance in the wind. Maybe that description on Facebook is valid after all. If you need an album to chill out to, or if you are a Filipino child who wants to take up outdoor tap dancing, this album is worth a listen.
Rating: 8.1/10
MP3: West End Motel “Witch Is Dead”
Buy: iTunes or Insound!