On August 23, 2017, I attended a gig at Good Records with Derek Rogers, Adam Pacione, and ATOP playing ambient sets. While chatting with Derek, he noted that a certain John Dufilho had walked into the record shop. Not knowing John, I was introduced and started chatting with him (later I would find that his music resume is incredibly impressive). I told him about Somewherecold and he told me he would send me some tracks from this new band he was in called Motorcade. The next day, John sent me the tracks and I was, quite frankly, blown away. I instantly moved to set up an interview with the band (which you can read here) and got the rest of the tracks to the album not long after that.
Ok, enough of the personal story. Motorcade is a Dallas based band made up of James Henderson (guitar), Andrew Huffstettler (vox), John Dufilho (bass), and Jeff Ryan (drums). To say that the band’s overall touring resume is impressive is to make a massive understatement. Motorcade is made up of members or former members of St. Vincent, The Apples in Stereo, The War on Drugs, The Deathray Davies, Baboon, and many others. This self-titled album is their debut but it has been in the hopper, can, whatever metaphor you want to use, for some time now and is about to be unleashed on the world on January 19th. It’s a mixture of the best of 80’s nostalgia but it is never derivative nor does it quite sound like any of the bands you can hear in the music. There are reverberations of Echo and the Bunnymen, Love and Rockets, New Order, and so many other great post-punk bands.
“Walk with Me” starts the album off and running with this addictive beat and bright, earworm guitar strum. The bass work is also incredible on this album and “Walk with Me” gives a great introduction to the sound. As I said above, you will hear Echo and the Bunnymen here but it’s fresh, new, and taps into nostalgia in a way few bands can without being derivative. “Deliver” has a galloping beat and a head-bobbing melody. This is 80’s styled post-punk at its finest complete with the retro throwback synth sounds. “When the Hit Come” pulsates with spacey synths and has these toms that beat in the chorus, making this track another earworm. It has the feel of a post-punk anthem, with both bright and melancholy moods dancing in unison.
This sense of bright poppy tone mixed with a sort of impending doom continues with “Overthrown” as a sort of Cure vibe permeating the Bunnymen structures. Of course, it has to be mentioned that Henderson’s delivery on vocals are a dream, confident and inviting with a sort of edge of desperation. When I hear “Overthrown”, I picture myself as a teenager driving the freeways of Los Angeles blaring KROQ on my radio. It both hearkens back to those years in my formative life but also speaks to a modern setting. “Desertion” recalls the dour moments of The Cure mixed with a light sprinkle of OMD. The bass line evokes Hooky and the mixture is infectious. “Evaporate” is a dreamy, soothing piece with ethereal vocals floating synths.
“Recover”, I think, is the heart and soul of this incredible debut. Starting with acoustic guitar, the track bursts into an anthem that rings from the speakers. “Is this the last one/I knew when I met you/Is this the last one/there’s nothing more I can do/Is this the last one/I won’t forget you/Is this the last one/I couldn’t if I wanted to” sings Huffstettler throughout the chorus. “Long Telegram” continues this anthemic feel as it dovetails off the brilliance of “Recover”. There is a heartbeat type tempo here as the bass drum sets the rhythm and the high-hat rings out under Huffstettler’s melody. The bridge on this track is especially memorable, growling and haunting as it is.
“CP80” leads the listener to the end of the album as it is the third from the last. The longest track on the album, it’s the most Bunnymen track while the acoustic guitar makes me think of Love and Rockets a bit. The bass punctuates the air with authority and Henderson’s guitars growl subtly in sparse moments. “Not Too Dark” taps that goth side of post-punk in a brilliant way. Minor chords shape the sonic landscape as the title ironically casts a little light on this darker piece. “Contact Light”, a perfect follow up to “Not Too Dark” and the finale to this brilliant album, begins with bright synths playing a simple melody under Huffstettler’s vocals. It’s an utter synth throwback and it’s brilliantly executed.
I know I’ve made a lot of references to 80’s post-punk bands and I don’t want to give the impression that this band is some sort of copy. Motorcade takes the essence of these bands and makes those essences their own. This self-titled debut is a post-punk, nostalgia tour de force, but it never moves into derivative territory. It is inspired, brilliant, and, at the end of the day, addictive. The combination of great song writing, instrumentation choices, and overall feel sets a high bar for albums to follow in 2018. I expect Motorcade’s first offering to appear on top lists come December!
Pick up a copy of Motorcade‘s debut at http://www.idolrecords.com/catalog/details.php?release=153.