rogue motel
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rogue motel

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"Willamette Week Pick of the Week"

[rock] Rare among Portland bands, newish group Rogue Motel comes prepared with an almost-radio-ready-modern-rock sound. While it may not be the most original style, it's an endlessly popular one, and one these Rogues pull off with conviction and soul. The plaintive lead vocals could certainly translate to crowds in noisy barrooms and packed arenas alike, with the supple drumming of Jeremy Kaplan (late of jam fave Higher Ground) bolstering the solid songs. If earnest, straight-forward rock is your thing, check into this Motel.
-Jeff Rosenberg - Willamette Week

"Tightly crafted despair"

Listening to Rogue Motel is like stumbling around a scuzzy bar's back alley in a gin haze, lost and bewildered by the hand life has dealt you.
Though the Americana thing has been done nearly to death, this Portland foursome, led by songwriter and singer Matthew Kendall and keyboardist Reginald Bradley, cops the best parts: plaintive, cottonmouth vocals, melodic agony and simple but tight grooves. They're the band you want to see on a Saturday night when you're fueled by too many PBR's, a recent ugly breakup and a hopeless tomorrow. Kendall, a Tennessee transplant, formed the band in 2005. In a voice like David Gray's, with shades of Simply Red's Mick Hucknall, he spins his heartland tales of woe, of getting by, of picking up one leaden foot and putting it in front of the other. He's expressive and acrobatic but knows how to lay down a vein-slicing chorus vocal, in the same way as the Gin Blossoms and the BoDeans.
From the opening cut of the seven song outing, "What Am I Supposed To Do", to the weary closer, "New Year's Eve" the ensemble playing is the perfect paradox of tight looseness. Each cut is decidedly different, from the ambling ballads to the dandy three-quarter-time "the Drunken Dreamers". The boys are lock-washer tight, even when the song demands playing behind the beat.
The highlight is Kendall's minor key dirge "Eloise", a song that rattles around in your head like a bout of insomnia. "Give me some cocaine, or leave me in the cold rain. I've had enough of feeling like this today."
Enough can't be said of Bradley's work on Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes and piano. Behind the subtle power of drummer Jeremy Kaplan (later of Higher Ground) and bassist Adam East, Bradley frosts every song with bluesy chords and the right amount of warble and burble.
Don Campbell, "The Oregonian"
8/18/2006 - the Oregonian

"Daylight Breaking - Metro Spirit"

Portland, Ore.'s, Rogue Motel has a distinctive sound bred from the seedy side of town in Kentucky where they recorded "Daylight Breaking." In every nuance of the album, there is a desperate feel, especially pervasive in the intense vocal style of lead singer and guitarist Matthew Kendall.

Sometimes a little like R.E.M., Rogue Motel carry the slow, melodic introspective style of college rock to a level that fans of such bands as Radiohead can really appreciate. Often slow and moving, "Daylight Breaking" assaults the senses with emotional, contemplative, and beautifully crafted songs. With a soft country backing sound over light pop, Rogue Motel bring back a style that reminds one sometimes of Frank Black’s later-era solo work and the simple folk ballads of John Mellencamp. All this overlaid with moody, soulful, shaky vocals and experimental, catchy, southern-inspired music.

“Hurry Up” opens the album with one of the best tracks, really pushing forward the individual and highly original singing style of Kendall with a moody yet catchy chorus heralding this as the perfect opener.

For intensity, “Garden” takes the cake. It stands teeth on edge with the wild chorus and chiming background tune. Meanwhile, “Little Waves” has the upbeat sound making it an exquisite radio-friendly track reminiscing back to an earlier time of classic southern rock.

Displaying the broken hearted and lonely soul of Rogue Motel, “Fault” keeps a steady, infectious rhythm going strong.

While many of the songs on "Daylight Breaking" have the similar feel of college rock-meets- intensely-mood-driven-experimental Southern rock, each track brings something to the table the previous one did not. Catchy and interesting, with "Daylight Breaking," Rogue Motel press out an album of such feeling it keeps a tight hold long after their superb cover of by Townes Van Zandt’s “Marie” comes to a close.
- Metro Spirit

"Daylight Breaking - Eartaste"

“Ain’t no way of stopping time, it’s best to just enjoy the ride.” These fellas are full of exciting surprises. This happy tune has the uncanny ability to make me feel like whistling. Whistling? Well, you’ll be glad to know these guys aren’t whistling on the record, they’re telling a story of a relationship. “I often think of summer Sundays when all we had to be was lazy and lay upon the roof and watch the sun become the moon.” There’s tension, as in all great stories. Here the happy singer offers “a smile before you go, or maybe a song for the road.” Relationships. Never easy, but the narrator is keeping his hopes up in this fun tune. Well-presented, and maintains my interest over many listens.

The first shoutout is for Smoke and Vines, another fine original with a totally different mood, showing off the versatility of Rogue Motel.

The second shoutout is for Marie, the Townes tune we’ve all sung for many years. The reason for the shoutout is that Rogue Motel doesn’t work on doing a fine rendition of the tune that makes me cry as I sing it. They completely take it on as their own. The lyric and tune are there, but done with the flavors of Rogue Motel – a wonderful showcase of their abilities as performers. We stand with them in the unemployment line, and cry with them as we attempt to waken our pregnant girlfriend to give her the message that work is impossible to find, so we’re going to head down south and try our luck elsewhere. “I guess I'll just tell Marie the truth hope she don't break down and cry.” The story continues, but Rogue Motel chooses to let the music express the events and the emotions. The words Townes wrote are hard for any of us to sing, and the narrator in this version doesn’t even try. The story is told by the instruments fading. I love the way the drummer plays a heartbeat and stops. But I’m giving too much away. This is a performance you need to hear. Thanks, guys. You give this old tune a new power and purpose. It does bug me that it can still ring true after all this time – we still deal with unemployment and underemployment way too much here.
- Eartaste

"Daylight Breaking - Bulls Eye"

3 Stars
There’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.
- Bulls Eye

"Daylight Breaking - Pop Syndicate"

3.5 Stars
Just like the old rock ‘n’ roll.

Pure, unadulterated rock. The sounds of the 70s bands like The Who and Led Zeppelin mixed with the fast riffs and unique groove of Rogue Motel.

Matthew Kendall is the man behind the wheel of Rogue Motel. He met producer Duane Lundy (Vandaveer, Scourge of the Sea, Ben Sollee) and blindly followed his gut to Lundy’s studio in Lexington, Kentucky. “We recorded in a warehouse in a run-down industrial part of town. It sat right against the train tracks and you could feel the trains in the floor as they passed” (http://www/, recalls Kendall. Daylight Breaking is the result of that time in Kentucky and serves as the new album from Portland’s Rogue Motel. Along with Kendall are Michael Wehling, Reginald Bradley, Adam Hill, and Jeremy Kaplan, completing a five-some that had never played together until that first night in Kentucky. “We cut Fault that night”, Kendall remembers ON THE GROUP’S MYSPACE PAGE, “and I think you can hear it in the energy of that track… everyone was working really hard to find the right place…getting to know each other musically through recording was really special.” (

“Fault” is the second track on the album, a fantastic song with a simple rock beat. Some of the songs on the album are high activity and just end abruptly. I expected another verse or chorus and the song just ended on the high notes. Matthew Kendall has an unmatched voice; I’ve never heard a voice like his before. He’s definitely found a niche of his own. His voice is much like that of Roger Daltrey of The Who. Kendall gets your attention with his voice. The lyrics are clear and not overpowered by the organ, cymbals, guitars, trumpet or piano. Some of the songs even sound like the rock and roll of the early 70s.

I enjoyed the album’s 10 tracks although I thought the last song on the album, “Marie,” was a little too long at over 9 minutes. It had a long intro over two minutes, a very slow beat and more music that vocal. All in all a good album to have if for no other reason that to relive the early days of rock and roll.
- Pop Syndicate

"RIYL - Sequenza 21"

One of the ways that PR people pitch music to prospective reviewers is with the RIYL (“recommended if you like”) tag. Many magazines have adopted this to “aid” their readers as well, hoping that an RIYL will inspire them to read the rest of the review! In an era of dwindling attention spans, perhaps its understandable that shorthand tools such as RIYL and numerical rating systems, along with shorter review word counts, are becoming the norm. While requiring pith and specificity of writers isn’t inherently bad, this trend may have a tendency to marginalize thoughtful coverage of music in favor of music reviews becoming a “buyer’s guide” and nothing more.
Recently, Margaret from XO Publicity ( sent along Rogue Motel’s CD for my consideration for review. XO is an outfit that works with artists from a diverse array of genres, often supporting emerging acts that are trying to get noticed in the impossibly crowded fray that is the contemporary music business. There was a sticker affixed to my promo copy, telling me a bit about the band and suggesting particular tracks to my attention. It included a RIYL: Journey, David Gray, Live, R.E.M. I usually consider a tag like this “chumming the waters:” suggesting that you’ll like a release no matter what your listening preferences. But I’ve learned in years of working with XO that they’ve seldom led me astray or misrepresented an artist, despite it being their job to advocate for their clients. They hadn’t here either.
Rogue Motel is an unusually flexible outfit, stylistically speaking. Their music encompasses much of what was suggested by the RIYL. Alt-rock arrangements are abetted a vocalist who shares more than a passing resemblance to Steve Perry from Journey, especially on disc-opener “Hurry Up.” The band channels Peter Buck and Michael Stipe quite effectively on “The Fronts” and David Gray on “Garden.” There’s even a hint of Live’s hook-heavy ambience on “Long Enough.” As students of rockers past, Rogue Motel gets all As.
Of course, this begs the question: is listening to the band too much about playing “spot the influences?” Perhaps its too soon to tell whether Rogue Motel will be able to harness all of these various interests into a distinct sound, but Daylight Breaking demonstrates that they are a strong unit capable of crafting catchy songs. In fact, there’s nary a clunker on the CD, and that’s quite something from a debut.
- Christian Carey

"Daylight Breaking - Indieville"

Countrified pop music is what the five members of Rogue Motel are made of, and Daylight Breaking is the first the world will hear from them. And that's good news for the world, because this is really good.

The first thing that strikes you when listening to Rogue Motel for the first time are the vocals - lead singer Matthew Kendall's voice has a vaguely androgynous quality, strangely reminiscent of Tracy Chapman's femi-masculine timbre. This was a little surprising at first, but after a little adjustment its compatibility with the other instruments becomes evident. But the key to Daylight Breaking's success is rather simple: the songs. These are hideously well-written pop tunes - the sort of gems that are virtually unheard of on a self-released title such as this, and indeed the type of stuff that gives even the most hardened critics a woody.

Let's take a look at an obvious best-of-album candidate, the sterling "Smoke and Vines." A crisp but not unruffled piece of pop noir, it drenches a wonderfully infectious melody in moody organ keys, the result boasting a significant Woodface-era Crowded House influence. Also impressive are peppy opener "Hurry Up" and sublimely twangy "The Front." Meanwhile, insanely infectious "Tired and Wasted" is a pop gem that really juices the Crowded House vibe, circa both Woodface and Temple of Low Men. Remarkably for a debut album, none of these songs lets up on the gas - even some of the less immediately memorable tracks ("Fault," strong-chorused "Long Enough") combine a cinematic, country-flecked atmosphere with well-executed songwriting.

And with that, Daylight Breaking is the best self-released debut I've heard in a long time.


New LP "Daylight Breaking" released Nov 3rd, is recieving glowing reviews.
in rotation on over 300 radio stations nationwide

2006 - self titled EP
saw rotation on over 200 stations and licensing on MTV's "Real World" "Road Rules" "Human Giant" "My Super Sweet Sixteen" and Oxygen networks "Bad Girls Club"



You learn a lot about yourself when you're recording an album. Especially when you're 2,380 miles away from home, living in a cheap hotel, eating bourbon for dinner , and spending every moment with a group of guys that are playing together for the very first time. Matthew Kendall, the primary songwriter of Rogue Motel, knows this feeling well. He met producer Duane Lundy (Vandaveer, Scourge of the Sea, Ben Sollee) and blindly followed his gut to Lundy's studio in Lexington, Kentucky. "We recorded in a warehouse in a run-down industrial part of town. It sat right against the train tracks and you could feel the trains in the floor as they passed", recalls Kendall.
Daylight Breaking is the result of that time in Kentucky and serves as the new album from Portland's Rogue Motel. Along with Kendall are Jeremy Kaplan, Michael Wehling, Adam Hill, and Reginald Bradley completing a five-some that had never played together until that first night in Kentucky. "We cut Fault that night", Kendall remembers, "and I think you can hear it in the energy of that track, everyone was working really hard to find the right place, getting to know each other musically through recording was really special". Drummer Jeremy Kaplan recalls,"Once we got in the studio and started playing, expectations evaporated and a deeper group process took over". While in Portland, singer Kendall envisioned an album of new songs and a process of bringing in new players to make it. Along with Kaplan they crafted the material just enough, and then let producer, band and a world of possibilities collide.

Their new album "Daylight Breaking" is in rotation on over 200 CMJ/AAA stations

They have performed at:
- The University of Tennessee Knoxville
- Auburn University
- Middle Tennessee State University
- Western Kentucky University
- University of Oregon
- Oregon State University
- Sonoma State University
- Pellisippie State Community College
- University of Tennessee Chatanooga
- Portland State University
- Western Washington University

Their 2006 self-titled debut EP was in rotation on over 200 college radio stations nationwide.

Their songs have been featured on MTV's:
- "Road Rules"
- "Human Giant"
- "Real World"
- "My Super Sweet Sixteen"
and the Oxygen network's:
- "Bad Girls Club"
Over 44,000 myspace plays

Rogue Motel has performed live in studio on "the Dharma Wheel" on KBOO radio. They will be featured on the compilation CD for that program released in 2006
They have been featured on the Local Music Spotlight segment on KINK 101fm, as well as recieved acclaim from the Oregonian's Arts and Entertainment section.