Band – Motel Faces
Album / Label – Never Die Young
/ Independent
Rating – 7 / 10

Having released their debut eponymous EP in 2016, Cincinnati’s Motel Faces followed that with the release of Never Die Young in July 2018.

Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Tommy Cappel at Cappel Studios, Never Die Young sees the band progressing from the somewhat raw “Humble Pie with a dash of The Stooges” sound into a more polished and maturing rock outfit.

Comprised of Nick Liston (vocals), John Harper (guitar), Matt “Jackets” Coates (drums) and Kyle Stone (bass), they have a no-frills, straight-ahead, damn the torpedoes attitude that is full of energy, distorted riffs and catchy hooks.

The uptempo energy of Movin Along kicks-off the album, setting the tone for what’s to follow. Liston has a way of singing that is reminiscent of Jack White, but with quite a bit more voltage. Stone works his way up-and-down the frets of his bass, adding rich texture to the beat.

“Never Die Young” front cover

They keep the pace high, with Coates tattooing furiously on the skins to start Better Off. With Liston singing about getting over a failed relationship, the guitar work is straight out of 1985; relatively simple, as intricacy would be superfluous on the track. They make it work.

The band is solidly in the groove with the guitar-driven Red Handed, a midtempo rocker sure to get your feet moving. The track has a vibe to it that makes one think Bon Jovi could have recorded this one. The distortion-laden bridge builds the anticipation for something big that morphs into a guitar solo that climbs to new heights, before falling back into the chorus as it winds its way to the final note.

I Know You Hate Me has an early 1980’s vibe, ala Autograph. With Liston’s soaring vocals showing a hint of chagrin, the jarring way he belts out “I know you hate me” makes you sit and pay attention.

They slow the pace slightly with the driving Make Me Proud, keeping a steady beat as Liston digs deep with his vocal work. The song moves along predictably until just past the midway point, when the keyboards (organ?) kick in to add needed emotion, which takes you back to the organ-laden hits of the 1960’s. The 1970’s arena rock guitar solo is a nice touch on this track.

Motel Faces (Image credit: Side B Media)

That’s The Final Word makes you imagine speeding down a lonely two-lane road in the middle of the night, the hypnotic beat calling for the volume to be turned all the way up.

The penultimate track, Never Die Young, starts with a wonderful guitar melody that compliments Liston’s vocals perfectly. As the track picks up speed, you can almost feel the adrenaline begin to course through your body with verve. The bridge brings you back to an even keel with an emotional tone that is fitting for the final song. This track could easily be found as part of a movie soundtrack.

Just A Few Miles could easily be mistaken for a throwaway track tacked on to the end of the album as filler. Alas, they skirt this issue by labeling it as a “Bonus Track.” The slower, acoustic pace of the song shows that they are more than a one-trick pony, with the harmonies reminiscent of 1970’s America tunes, such as Ventura Highway, Tin Man or Sister Golden Hair.

Never Die Young is a solid album for those that love guitar rock, catchy hooks and a longing for the nostalgia of classic rock-n-roll. It has a “classic rock” feel without sounding dated, buoyed by Liston’s vocal styling.

Track List

  1. Movin Along
  2. Better Off
  3. Red Handed
  4. I Know You Hate Me
  5. Make Me Proud
  6. That’s The Final Word
  7. Never Die Young
  8. Just A Few Miles

Motel Faces – Better Off