Connor Bracken & The Mother Leeds Band
This album is brilliant! In case you want to know a little more about ‘Nightbird Motel’, I can confirm that Connor Bracken & The Mother Leeds Band are not celebrating a certain team returning to the Premiership (unless by some strange coincidence they are football fans of their namesake northern team, which would be a good story) hailing as they do from Asbury Park New Jersey. They don’t sound anything like their better-known hometown musicians Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny, although they convey the same sense of single-minded urgency as these stalwarts.
This is one of those albums that instantly grabs your jaded attention like an unexpected slap around the chops and never lets your attention wander thereafter. It absolutely crackles with energy and is beautifully produced to give your ears audio quality of crystalline clarity. This is the band’s follow-up to their debut ‘The Light in the Sky’ from 2016. Clearly in no rush to put out the difficult second album, they have spent two years preparing what is an absolute corker.
Recorded at the Soundmine Studio in the mountains of East Stroudsburg (no, I’d never heard of it either), Pennsylvania, the four-piece have created a minor Rock classic. To me this sounds like a New Wave record from the early 80’s, recorded with a Classic Rock sensibility and with distinctly Celtic overtones (not another football reference).
The album starts with ‘When the World Stops Turning’, entering with clipped power chords and busy drum fills before an insistent riff kicks in and the powerful vocals of band leader and sole songwriter, Connor Bracken start to tell a story, building to a strong chorus underpinned by the band rocking out. This collection has such a clean, bright rocking sound. ‘Read on You’ sounds like The Waterboys on steroids.
Not only are the songs melodically powerful and fresh but, the lyrics haven’t just been chucked together to fill out the space; each song has its genesis in an interesting tale and the titles alone evoke a sense of American life from a different era; titles like ‘Photographs of Johnny Cash’ (a great song) and ‘Voice on the Radio’ (ditto!). The solos are short and punchy and the dual guitars are mostly employed driving the tunes with ringing chords and neat riffs.
The sound is teasingly familiar yet somehow fresh and different! This is a band you should check if you haven’t heard them and there is no better place to start than this superb set.