Review ·

Carl Jordan, recording as the Western States Motel, certainly knows his way around a melody. His self-titled debut is loaded with sweetly sung verses mingling inconspicuously among acoustic guitars and soft piano ("Powerlines," "If Your Life Is Just a Dream," "Southwest Planes") and occasional studio flourishes ("The Restless Sea"). Unfortunately for Jordan, there is a band called the Shins, and all that The Western States Motel aspires to, the Shins have already done, and better. There's no questioning Jordan's songwriting gift -- "Cheap Speakers" is a great slice of Grandaddy-inspired California folk-funk -- but for all its earnest and carefree hopes and its tactful, bright instrumentation, The Western States Motel reflects a part of the artist's hometown any Southern California resident is familiar with: It's all sweet and sunny, but it's all the same.






Stiff Records Reissues - Any Trouble, Where Are All the Nice Girls? (8.0); Dirty Looks, The Complete Stiff Years (7.0); Rachel Sweet, Fool Around (8,0); Tracey Ullman, You Broke My Heart in Seventeen Places (7.0); Wreckless E Charlotte Gainsbourg 5:55

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