If you’re filming a house party scene for a movie, you happen to be in South Texas, and you need a killer band to set the mood, you’re probably looking for Dirty Motel. The spirited 5-piece from McAllen, TX debuted their four-song EP a couple of months ago, and it’s full of life and an energy that pulls the listener in and keeps them close. They should have called themselves Voodoo Motel, because they’re working with some kind of witchcraft that keeps you spellbound from beginning to end.
The EP opens up with “Out of the Woods”, a musically diverse song in which guitarist Ozzy Salazar, a superb six-string talent, allows the opening riff to float into the ether, accented by the ambient but pointed lead guitar in the right speaker channel. The chorus is well-written, and frontman Sam Hinojosa makes good use of the freedom his band gives him within their informal groove. The vocals come light and unburdened, and while Hinojosa never attempts to impersonate Robert Plant, he has his own appeals as a singer; Namely, the ability to convey emotion and excitement while remaining true to the sound of his voice. The bolero-inspired intro of “Paper Chasin’” is intriguing and inspired, and Hinojosa speaks/sings with so much command and confidence, it’s hard not to lose yourself in the music. Keyboardist Teddy Morales colors the chorus masterfully without overplaying, and the rhythm team of bassist Emiliano Cruz and drummer Nick Leandro allows the band to fly without ever leaving the ground. “Paper Chasin’’ is a feel-good track, and it’s freakin’ catchy. The lead guitar of Salazar has some serious ‘tude, and if you’re looking to light up a spliff and kill some time, this is the song you want to do it to.
“Surf Side” has some serious Dire Straits vibes. It’s an 80’s beach party hosted by P.O.D. featuring Mark Knopfler… with the right production, it’s a runaway radio hit. Hinojosa sounds like he’s having the time of his life. Salazar unleashes an electric leviathan and rips an incredible guitar solo that not only shows his six-string prowess, but also serves the song well. Cruz absolutely crushes the bassline, and Leandro beats the bejesus out of his drums without ever breaking a sweat. This track shows the creativity and drive of the band while also serving as high watermark of what we can expect from them in the future. The final track of the EP, “The Fire”, is less impressive than the rest of the EP. It feels rushed and crudely constructed… there’s definitely something there, especially in the opening riff, but the vocals aren’t delivered nearly as confidently as before, and it’s harder to pull of the mojo of a song like this without that confidence. The bridge sounds like it came from another song, and even though the attitude is there, it seems as though the song itself needs a bit more work. It isn’t horrible, but it pales in comparison to the strength of the first three songs. Still, the EP itself shows a promising young band that may not even realize how good they actually are, and that makes right now the perfect time to start listening to them. Dirty Motel has many strengths, but one of the biggest is the ability to create a vibe and feeling with their music that lasts. The songs don’t get dull or less impressive after you listen to them a few times, and that speaks to the strength of the songwriting and performance of the band. Check out the debut from Dirty Motel here, follow them on Facebook and Twitter , and don’t miss them when they come to a city near you!