Brass! That can be a hard thing to pull off when combined with rock, and you don’t hear too many indie bands trying it out.

Space Motel’s latest album Arrival is funky, soulful, thoughtful and fun. Let’s call it interstellar road music, because this album sounds like the kind of thing you’d listen to while taking a space road trip, (whatever that is) which makes sense, given the band’s name. Arrival has an emphasis on lyrics, a sound that changes with every song, and a whole bunch of brass. Brass! That can be a hard thing to pull off when combined with rock, and you don’t hear too many indie bands trying it out. After all, sometimes just finding a musician who isn’t a guitarist can be an ordeal on its own.

Speaking of guitar, “Going the Wrong Way,” the album’s seventh track, has a guitar solo full of bends and pinch harmonics and a retro approach—an example of Space Motel’s creative choices, because Space Motel is nothing if not a creative band, with excellent guitar skills.

Probably the reason Space Motel can keep the sound so fresh between tracks is that there are five main members of the band, and a whole bunch of guest musicians as well (the band comes from Rhode Island) and with that many contributors, the musical ideas are bound to change up.

What you’re looking at from lead vocals here is like a mix of Chris Cornell (coincidentally) and maybe Sting. Most of the albums I’ve reviewed for Independent Music News have been pretty chill albums so far, and this one is no exception. The sounds are ethereal, but there’s also something steady and reassuring in these songs as well. It’s like looking at space in general, the unfathomable size can either be crushing or reassuring, and in this case it’s reassuring.

If you detect some wah-wah on the fourth track on the album, “Blackwoods,” then I would agree with you, because I do. Damn, that wah pedal goes down great with that interstellar rock-funk road music, doesn’t it? My favourite song off the album is “Unexplainable,” which features some sweet, sweet harpsichord sounds. “It’s unexplainable,” (goes the chorus) except it’s completely explainable why “Unexplainable” is my favourite song off the album. It’s a great song with a great riff, excellent guitar, vocal hook and a chorus that says so much with so little. It throws a wide net to identify with.

After “Unexplainable,” you get the mighty but melancholy piano intro to “Way Home.” I’d save this song for the point in the night when you get a little lonely lying in that Space Motel of yours, which a thousand extra terrestrials have slept in before and after you. It’s not a happy track, and it hits hard.

Overall, Arrival is a steady album of cosmic rock and roll for your soul, and a steady second release for the five-piece band (plus friends). Check out Arrival and Space Motel’s previous album, Departure, on the band’s bandcamp, and don’t forget to give “Unexplainable” a good dozen listens or so.

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