Band of the Day

2012.08.05

Gold Motel

A Midwestern indie pop group with sights set firmly on the Californian coast
I think I'm in love, but I should know better. To run with one like you will only drag me under.
lyrics from Make Me Stay

Gold Motel began as the solo project of Greta Morgan, formerly of The Hush Sound, when she returned from time spent writing in Los Angeles. The band has expanded to include guitarists Dan Duszynski and Eric Hehr, along with bassist Matt Schuessler and drummer Adam Kaltenhauser. The band released their California-inspired first full-length album, Summer House (Good as Gold, June 2010) that contained ten songs, including five from their previously released 2009 Gold Motel EP. The 7" Talking Fiction followed on November 2010, featuring two new songs, "Cold Shoulders" and "Slow Emergency,” which were also released on their July 2012 self-titled album. The band has spent much time touring, including shows at SXSW and Lollapalooza, as well as national and UK tours supporting Hellogoodbye in 2011.

More than any other state in the United States, there's something innately special about California that has deeply inspired musicians throughout the years. Think about it: how many songs have you heard about California's sunny beaches and majestic mountains versus, say, Idaho's potatoes or Wisconsin's cheese? Maybe they exist, but not on the level of notoriety as the Mamas & the Papas “California Dreamin'” or 2Pac's “California Love.” Similarly inspired by the Golden State are indie pop quintet, Gold Motel (whose name was derived from drawing words out of a hat and not from an actual Californian motel). Though the group comes from Chicago, their music draws influence from 60s West Coast pop groups like the Beach Boys and the aforementioned the Mamas & the Papas. Before coming together as Gold Motel, front woman Greta Morgan was part of the pop-punk group The Hush Sound (who were signed to Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz's label, Fueled By Ramen), while other members came from The Yearbooks and This Is Me Smiling. When The Hush Sound went on hiatus in 2009, Morgan temporarily moved to California and became deeply involved in the Los Angeles-area music scene. Now back in Chicago, the Californian influence can still be heard on Gold Motel's music. Take “Perfect In My Mind,” from their 2009 self-titled debut EP, which captures the carefree spirit of lounging on beaches in the summer, well, perfectly. Or “Safe In L.A.”, from their 2010 debut LP Summer House, which has the kind of upbeat hand claps and sunny male/female harmonies that might just inspire you to grab the nearest bottle of SPF 50 and hit the nearest surf. Gold Motel's 2012 self-titled sophomore album is similarly inspired by their love for California. “Santa Cruz” has Morgan sweetly singing lines like, “it's just a sun-drenched dream” and “I'll come back soon/when you least assume/oh, Santa Cruz!” “These Sore Eyes” is a mid-tempo surf rocker, with background “oohs” sounding almost like azure waves gently lapping on a sandy shore. While Morgan primarily takes on the role of lead vocalist, “Slow Emergency” has her temporarily switching roles with guitarist Dan Duszynski, who sings the verse “I can make it out/things are going okay/I'm brushing off my doubts/but they ain't going away/things are going okay.” There's a bittersweet nostalgia to Duszynski's tone that contrasts gorgeously with Morgan's honeyed register, making it one of the stand-out moments in the song, if not the whole album. While the California love runs deep in Gold Motel, it's songs like these that show that—above all else—their first love is creating gorgeous melodies.