Motel Black craft an extended narrative on noisy debut album ‘Humor Balance’
Boston alt-rock band unveil expansive debut album on Friday, July 15
‘Humor Balance’ set for a vinyl release in August
Photo courtesy of Motel Black
BOSTON, MA [July 15, 2022] -- The music of Motel Black often elicits a visceral reaction from the listener. The Boston band’s sound can be dark, noisy, and at times harsh, somber, and lush, a stirring cocktail of alternative rock and indie that doesn’t feel tethered to one inspirational era or a particular style. It also possesses a feeling of permanence; expansive songs that dig in and gnaw under the surface, displaying a certain restlessness that echoes our caustic, uneasy times.
Like a series of chapters brought together to create an overarching theme, Motel Black are set to release debut album Humor Balance this summer; the seven-track LP first hits streaming platforms on July 15, with an exclusive pressing of 180g vinyl surfacing in August. Included on the album are five tracks Motel Black has slowly unveiled throughout the pandemic, starting with September 2020’s “Evening Standard,” as well as two new compositions in the brazen title track and slow-burning LP closer “Single Stall.”
“The overarching lyrical theme of the LP is faults,” says vocalist and guitarist Brian George. “It can be scary to express yourself, but you have to do it, even if that means being picked apart by whoever is into that type of thing.”
That idea becomes especially apparent on new single “Humor Balance,” the LP’s moody title track: “The title comes from some sort of old school medical procedure where people would try to balance the humors – liquids – of the body by bloodletting. Essentially, it’s me verbally bloodletting and saying that I am not a great person. My favorite line from the song is definitely ‘If the body is a temple, I’m at the altar of self.’ It’s just so ridiculous and over the top. As with most of my lyrics, there’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek.”
George’s lyrics are central to the Motel Black equation, but also complement the musical atmosphere crafted by the rest of the band. “We shift constantly and tend not stay within one type of song for very long,” admits bassist Marcos Nava. “Maybe one day we'll have a different method of working and focus on a particular style or mood for a release. For this first ‘full’ collection or album, I think we chose a batch of songs that represent a few different sides of who we are as a band, and that could work together as a whole.”
The record is further linked together via its artwork, and those of the prior singles, all illustrated and composed by guitarist Ryan Dougherty as a means to create a cohesive visual unit. That provides an added visual depth to allow April single “Morning Hum,” an epic six-plus-minute song about being held captive by anxiety, to align with Motel Black’s previous singles, like October 2020’s “Evening Standard,” which explored the duality of Boston’s economic and social disparity between neighborhoods.
“The first six tracks were all worked on at the same time during the first eight or so months of the pandemic, with parts mainly recorded by each band member on their own,” adds drummer Sean Joncas. “‘Single Stall’, which closes the record, was just recently finished. The original version of this song planned for this record was thrown out. We ended up rearranging the song completely which is what you hear on the record in its final form. It just always felt like a part of this record, and in our minds, a companion song to ‘Evening Standard’. That and waiting out the pandemic are the primary reasons why this record is coming out now instead of earlier.”
George says “Single Stall” is a song about sexuality: “I wrote it because I felt like I was reading a lot of articles, blogs, whatever about sexual expression and how many people talked about how they want or wanted to be more open to their own sexual desires and explorations, as well as those of others. I liked reading about it because it seemed the opposite of how I interpreted this subject in my brain. When I expressed my sexuality, I always just felt like a lech. I don’t know – maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing. Also, with so much online, it just seems like many can just easily characterize someone based upon how they look and assume something sexually about a person. I think this can get in the way of finding a deeper meaning to a relationship. It’s sort of a culmination of me dealing with my own faults/thoughts on the matter, as well as other’s thoughts. No narrative to it – just expression, as usual. More bloodletting.”
Now, Motel Black’s greatest creative expression is fully realized, and the air of permanence to their songs gets treated as such – a physical, tangible way for listeners to take the band with them, to absorb the music with a stronger sense than clicking a button or adding to a playlist. If Motel Black’s aim is to have their music cater to a human emotion, there needs to be a way for a human to be emotional with it. Enter the vinyl release, which captures an album that best reflects what Motel Black is all about. This isn’t a record for the playlists, or pop radio; it’s for listeners to become intimate with its contents. To not only get a reaction, but to hold on to it.
“We wanted to capture this phase of the band in physical form before moving on,” says Joncas. Many of these songs have already been a key part of our live sets, so having something to offer at shows, or in local record shops or on Bandcamp, seemed like the next logical step as a band. It’s something to take home and stare at, rather than just tossing a single in a 800-song playlist and forgetting who that band was you saw three months ago.”
Motel Black are:
Brian George - vocals, guitar
Marcos Nava - bass, keys, backing vocals
Ryan Dougherty - lead guitar
Sean Joncas - drums, percussion, backing vocals
Motel Black secondary press photo:
Photos: Courtesy of Motel Black
Motel Black short bio:
Motel Black first emerged on the Boston scene in 2016, playing a handful of shows before self-releasing the demo A Commonwealth Songbook in November of that year. After cultivating a live show by performing all around New England, the band then dropped debut EP Culture Shock in April 2018. Along the way, Motel Black’s songs stretched to cover topics ranging from substance abuse, racism, and gentrification, to more overarching themes of love and death. The following year saw Motel Black performing heavily across the Northeast, including several regional festival appearances and opening for a handful of national touring acts. Boston label Green Line Records released the one-off single “Master of Reality Revisited” in July 2019. A new single series was launched in Fall 2020, a result of the pandemic and the uncertainty it brought, pairing each song with an accompanying music video to develop the band’s digital presence and remain creatively active. Lead single “Evening Standard” landed on several year-end and best-of lists, while marking a shift to a more textured, atmospheric sound. New music arrives in 2022, beginning with the April single “Morning Hum” and culminating in the July release of the band’s new album Humor Balance.
‘Humor Balance’ production credits:
Recorded and produced by Motel Black
Tracked in Malden, Medford, and Roslindale, MA between 2019 and 2022.
All songs written by Brian George
Tracks 1 to 6 mixed by Ryan Stack and mastered by Chris Chase at The Noise Floor, Dover, NH
Track 7 mixed and mastered by Marcos Nava
Illustrations and layout by Ryan Dougherty
‘Humor Balance’ album artwork:
The music of Motel Black can be heard on:
Allston Pudding, Bay State Rock, Boston Emissions with Anngelle Wood, BumbleBee Radio, Citywide Blackout, Everything You Know Is Wrong on Salem State Radio, Karen's Indies on Belter Radio UK, Local Music Now, Mark Skin Radio (Marc’s Alt-Rock Playground, Christian’s Cosmic Corner,Original Music Showcase), Mass Music Hype, Monie’s New Music (UK), On The Town with Mikey Dee on WMFO, Sound of Boston ,Sunshine Music iRadio, The Deli, This Is Only Rock Radio (Spain), Turn Up The Volume, UncertainFM, Vanyaland, WMBR (Pipeline! and Late Risers Club), Wave Radio Boston, Your First Listen on KNNZ, and other fine stations, shows, outlets, and publications…
“[‘Morning Hum] is an immaculately structured song, one which balances a convulsive emotional core with moments of delicacy and stillness. The video reflects that dichotomy, too, the costume bear head putting a surreal spin on the song's internal drama, but never losing sight of the persona's sense of depression: A stark reminder there can be depths and even pain hidden beneath the surface of cheerful exteriors.” _Worcester Magazine
“‘Morning Hum’ has that alt-rock sound that is somehow perfect for both stadiums and tiny clubs... some of the finest alt-rock guitar work to come out of Boston in a long time. [It's] like an amalgam of U2 and The Sheila Divine.” _If It's Too Loud
“A stunning track [‘Morning Hum’] from an immensely talented and musically potent group.”_Music Box Pete
“An eerie atmosphere.” _Allston Pudding
“Stoned-saturated alt-indie.” _IDIOTEQ
“Firm noise band from Boston producing hook-laden rock, atmospheric and noisy soundscapes, embracing elements of post-punk, garage, doomy folk, and psych-rock.” _Turn Up The Volume
“[‘Morning Hum’] always holds you even though it's six and a half minutes long. It takes some artistic guts to trust yourself to do a long haul song like that with its very slow build up.” _Boston Groupie News