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The Western States Motel - The Western States Motel

Released on Firebird Field Recordings, self-released 2007

This debut release from Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Carl Jordan flies by like so much time on a warm summer day. Three minute pop songs in the vein of Grandaddy meets a less tragic Elliot Smith at a mid-June picnic, they fall in love and have two babies -- Ween and The Shins. There you go.

This is the perfect formula for a smooth, blissed-out, forgettable pop album that somehow made its way onto the top lists of the summer. I mean, taste IS relative and I do like to see small, independent, unsigned artists get the recognition that many years of hard work and passion deserve. I just wish I liked it more. I wish I didn’t find it so trite, so demure, so sedate that at first listen I questioned its very character.

This all may be a little harsh. Around listen 53 I began to yield to Jordan and his predictability. I even began to look forward to certain methodical subtleties that layer the album. The old timey keys and synthesized rhythm section of “The New E Blues” and the surf guitar tremolo and backing oohs on the album’s single “Powerlines” make it easy to understand how and why this album is featured both on "The O.C." and some of the country’s top college radio stations.

There is a certain amount of soothing involved in something so subtly smooth and unassuming. Even if the lyrics are stale and the music simplistic, at least Jordan isn’t attempting to become what he is not. This is a respectable, straightforward, shoot from the hip album with truly sincere presentation.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars