CD Review of Daylight Breaking by Rogue Motel
Recommended if you like
Journey, Survivor, Firefall
Struggle On Music
Rogue Motel:
Daylight Breaking

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

here’s make one thing clear at the outset: There’s nothing wrong with generic rock ‘n’ roll. Sure, it can be a bit boring at times, but without it, what would fuel the formula for the hits that make their way to the top of the charts? The advent of Album Rock Radio in the ‘70s and ‘80s even made generic rock acceptable by spurring the creation of a whole new musical species, one that made bands like Journey, REO Speedwagon, Styx and scores of other unexceptional outfits mainstays on the FM dial during the post-disco era.

Nowadays, of course, it’s a different story. Every day seems to bring a new genre – emo, retro, nu-folk, death metal and whatever other descriptions that pundits and programmers are prone to spout at will. There are so many divisions, in fact, that even the bands that are typecast in these categories aren’t considered copycats because they propagate an illusion of diversity even when true novelty is actually lacking.

It says something then, when a band like Rogue Motel comes along and manages to sound so… well, abashedly unoriginal. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, mind you, but to be so blatant about it is indeed rare. It reminds us that for all that is striking and unusual these days, a patented approach will always ring true.

On the other hand -- and sadly, yes, there is another hand -- Rogue Motel often seem to simply replay sounds many of us have heard before, at least those of us who were old enough to be addicted to FM 20 years or so ago. Opening track “Hurry Up,” all staccato and self-importance, brings to mind one of those aforementioned ‘80s outfits that would fill stadiums and consistently amble up the charts. “Marie” and “Smoke and Vines” come across as ideal angst-infused power ballads, the kind that were once deemed radio ready. Singer Matthew Kendall offers up a wellspring of edginess and intensity, feeding the notion that if that Filipino fellow hadn’t landed the job as Journey’s lead singer, he would likely have auditioned himself.

For some listeners, that might be enough to toss down the iPod or go on to something else. However, as Daylight Breaking rolls on, Rogue Motel set up a new scenario by opting for some vague Americana and a mellower respite. Songs such as “It’s Not Too Late” and “Little Waves” curb the over-anxiety and allow more melodic sensibilities to take root. They don’t make the group any less derivative, but they do suggest that you can visit Rogue Motel and still find a welcome return.

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