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Roland; Paul: Bates Motel

Impressively for a musician probably best classified as having a "cult" following, the songs on Bates Motel were initially intended for two separate collaborations. The first with Sterling Morrison of The Velvet Underground and the second with Andy Ellison. The latter songs intended for a comeback John's Children album by the band Ellison performed in with a certain Marc Bolan. Unfortunately Roland let both of these opportunities slip by, before going on to retreat from music for a time to concentrate on family life. However with these song ideas still gnawing away at him, their creator returns to present them under his own name and to be fair the results are much further from derivative than suspected. Yes much of Bates Motel has a Velvet Underground feel and things are kept intentionally low key. However this is garage rock, with gothic intentions, yet with a strong eye for a pop melody and a gleefully sinister joy.

At first glance much here can feel throwaway, but delve deeper and the insistent melodies begin to worm their way into your head, making it easy to see why such respected musicians were willing to work with Roland all those years ago. What perks things up further is the nature of the lyrics, where stories are weaved in a way that reminds of "b" movies from years gone by, larger than life characters and situations regaled in a way that makes them feel ridiculously believable in a tongue in cheek kind of way. Roland has a reasonably monotone delivery, reminding of Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett, speaking in tune (well, almost in tune!) for much of the album. If you need a true singer to make your music click, then this may be a deal breaker for you. However for many his style will work wonderfully with the music and themes, adding a dryness and wryness that lends itself to the sillier tones of "Tortured By The Daughter Of Fu Manchu" or bonus track "I'm In Love With Myself". The band Roland has brought round him do a good job of keeping the simple ideas bright and interesting, even as they sometimes become dark and introverted. Although simple does remain a key word as you listen to the straight forward strum of "The Light Of Life Drains Out Of Me", or the slow meander of "Crazy". Oddly "Cain" could almost be a pop hit from the 60s that you could hear The Monkees attempting in one of those moments when they were trying to prove that they "meant it man".

An extremely interesting insight into what might have been for VU fans, or John's Children followers, Bates Motel is a pleasant and enjoyable release with hidden depth, although you do have to go digging to reveal it.


Track Listing
1. Was a Teenage Zombie
2. Kali
3. Bates Motel
4. How I Escaped from Devil's Island
5. The Wailing Well
6. Tortured by the Daughter of Fu Manchu
7. The Light of Life Drains Out of Me
8. Katmandu
9. Promised Land
10. Crazy
11. Cain bonus track
12. I'm in Love With Myself

Added: July 5th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Paul Roland on facebook
Hits: 1316
Language: english

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