The Western States Motel
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The Western States Motel

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This band has not uploaded any videos



"When Vacancy Stares"

Everything is ready, it would seem, for a big change to take place. I’m heading out of town for a while (read: forever) to see exactly where a body floats to when the breeze lifts it from the familiar concrete of one charming, northeastern city to somewhere that has been painted with an entirely different brush. A destination where the sun sleeps less and where those pesky sheets of ice can’t find a place to crystallize and wait. For no reason at all my interior feels magnetized and pulled by unseen forces toward that long stretch of land on the western coast of this continent. If I’m being honest–and that’s really the one thing that I’ve got going on this blog–I’ve never even been to California. Not only that, I’ve never been further west than Tennessee, and that little sojourn, (to a dusty, old festival called Bonnaroo), only took place a few months ago.

For some reason I’ve just never had the ability to travel much–the gravity of Pennsylvania is an anomoly and sucks feet to the ground with a vacuum-tight seal–although my personality would suggest otherwise. As always, this leap into the grey unknown will need strong musical accompaniment if I’m to retain my sanity and continue to picture my life in the widescreen format to which I’ve grown accustomed. So what do I think an appropriate soundtrack to this little adventure to the west would be? Well, I can guarantee you that my first stop on this cross-country ride will be at The Western States Motel.

If I’m trying to picture it all–the juxtaposition of coarse, desert sand and crashing waves, of blue-shifted halos from the string of metropoli that dot the coastline and long, flat stretches of heat-baked topography–I end up with landscapes like the ones Carl Jordan has crafted on The Western States Motel hanging like mist behind my closed eyelids.

Sepia-tinged, sputtering film clips of tumbleweeds and palm trees serve as a backdrop to the langorous propulsion of “Powerlines,” whose pace and color evokes visions of a beat up old jalopy hiccupping down a tree-lined boulevard in slow-motion. An acoustic guitar that feels imbued with the warmth of the sun kickstarts the metal behemoth, encountering pockets of reverb and spanish-style guitar along the way. The question that looms in the lyrics: “When I was lost in your eyes, was I trying to find/ A way beyond all the palm tree powerlines?” Although I don’t have an answer the sentiment doesn’t feel sappy, but rather a sincere query to one of those lovers capable of invading your heart and forcing you to question all the things that you believe define you.

“Southwest Planes” sinks into the ground like a lament. After an introduction that conjurs some stripped down, indie-revival of The Eagles, Jordan sings: “One of these days/and it won’t be long/ You’ll look for me, baby/ And I’ll be gone” with charming complacency. The mood doesn’t necessarily lighten from there, although the tone of the track evokes more warm introspection than pity. When you hear: “Everybody sees the stars in your eyes/ Floatin’ high above the city at night/ If I’m not the one, don’t act surprised,” the irony is the smile on your face as the song pushes forward uneffected. These are anthems for the slow-pulse. Sun-soaked diamonds for the deep-breathing. In other words, these songs are gems that cost relatively little but a bit of close listening in a reclined position.

The Western States Motel’s debut album is available online now, and I highly recommend it. If these tracks speak to you in the same syrupy accent that they do to me: go buy the album. You can hear a few more tracks from the disc at CDBaby and at TWSM’s Myspace page. If this is the kind of passion and sincerity available (in portions) of the west coast, my journey will definately be soul-shifting. If not, at least there’s a cozy-little motel out there somewhere to escape from all the calamity.

Regardless, you’ll all be there to take the ride with me, perhaps join me for a drink somewhere on the road–whatever. Just know that I like tequila in moderation, and Guiness whenever it’s on tap. Cheers.


" for Their Moment in the Sun"

Imagine yourself gliding down the PCH with the warm summer breeze blowing through your hair in a red convertible (preferably with fins). This is the vibe that emanates from the Western States Motel's classic Californian sound. Originally a one man band, Carl Jordan formed, wrote, and produced this first album himself in his home in Los Angeles. With his new work hailed by critics as an intelligent, poppy disk Jordan was compared to Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. Rumors have been circling since that Jordan has got himself a proper band. Naturally curious, I caught up with The Jordan before his show at the Spaceland in Silver Lake to see how his new band was working out.

"Hey, let's do something that will provoke the manager to come back here," grinned Jesse Taylor impishly, the lead guitarist.

We were huddled in probably the most unromantic spot I've ever held an interview, a tiny little intimate session on a cinderblock behind the 7/11 across from the venue.

Carl Jordan sat comfortably amongst his new band mates. Mike Schanzlin, the bassist, had played with him live since the first album. Brian Pearl, the keyboard man, unfortunately was about to leave the outfit for the glories of law school. And last but not least the two Jesses, Carmichael and Taylor respectively, who had lived together as well as playing in bands around Los Angeles for a number of years.

When asked whether he would allow these new members of his band to influence his creative process, Jordan just smiled. "We'll see," he said diplomatically. "There is a part of me that likes the whole Howard Hughes thing where you lock yourself up in your room experience." Pure musical nerdiness aside, Jordan's new outfit is even better than his first arrangement.

As seasoned veterans of the Los Angeles music scene, his new band mates had a few horror stories to tell about their experiences here.

“This promoter once agreed to let us play at his venue if we managed to draw 250 people there. So we booked all of our own bands and promoted the hell out of the show, but in the end we only managed 220 people. But the place was packed, so we were pretty pleased with ourselves until the promoter caught up with us after the show and demanded to be paid for the thirty people that didn’t show up.” Jesse Carmichael recalled, wincing in pain as if it had happened yesterday.

With sharks like this it’s a wonder bands manage to play in this town at all.

Thank God they do. When Western States Motel got on stage that night at the Spaceland the place was suddenly filled with a brightness that would warm the cockles of even Scrooge's heart.

“Moments in the Sun”, a song off their new EP with an unbelievably long title, Painted Birds Flying in the Orange Mirror Sun, highlights the sheer joy of a Saturday morning, the preciousness of a Sunday brunch, and the glory of doing nothing; things that are sometimes unattainable in this hectic City of Dreams where everyone is busy having meetings at midnight and power brunches on Sunday mornings.

The Western States Motel are throwing their EP release party tonight at Safari Sam's. Admission is FREE. Clearly you have no choice but to go and bask in the glow of a band that's just hitting it's stride. -

"Band of the Week"

There are at least several songs on The Western States Motel’s demo cd that I’d want on a soundtrack for driving out in the middle of the desert at night in an old convertible with the top down. Out of all the new music I’ve been listening to recently -- and, christ, you could devote a full-time job to keeping up on everything coming out right now and still fall behind -- I swear I keep coming back to the lazy, strolling tracks on the TWSM demo the most.

But it’s not really like I’ve had any choice in the matter... I mean, the song Southwest Planez is the kind of tune that gets stuck in your head so completely that repeated listenings just cause it to find a better purchase there, rather than exorcising it away.

"One of these days and it won’t be long," sings Carl Jordan, the one-man band behind The Western States Motel, "look for me baby and I’ll be gone..." And maybe it’s the words or the way he sings them or both, but they make you want to empathize, to wish you were dating a no-good lady just so you could run out on her. (Much like how when you heard Husker Du’s Standing in the Rain back in high school, you immediately wanted someone to break up with you in the middle of a rainstorm.)

The Western States Motel has several dates planned between SF and LA in support of the upcoming self-titled album, culminating in a cd release party at Tangiers here in town on July 16th. Since that’s a ways out, I recommend heading over to the TWSM myspace page where you can download a few tracks off the demo in the meantime ... and find out if you have the same addictive reaction to them that a steadily growing number of my friends and I have. - Radio Free Silverlake

" Review"

With The Western States Motel’s self-titled debut, guitarist/vocalist Carl Jordan has crafted a simple yet haunted acoustic-driven wonder. This is not to say the CD is acoustic. The Western States Motel consists mostly of short, simple songs, using no more then a backbone of rudimentary acoustic guitar strumming, with keyboard and light electric guitar layered on top. And mostly the songs exude a warmth and intimacy that bigger names in light rock are constantly groping for.

Carl Jordan’s voice is unadorned and warm; and although commonplace in today’s low-key indie rock, it matches well with the simple tracks underneath and conveys a certain detached amusement. Even though the songs are often emotional, Jordan approaches the lyrics as understatements, without strain or schmaltz. One can hear echoes of Andrew Bird or a Sea Change era Beck. This voice works especially well on the opener, If Your Life is Just a Dream or Rows of Homes, in which the lyrics convey desperation but the voice gives the listener room to interpret the emotions in the words...And with a bit more nurturing, Car Jordan may be at the top of his class.

" at the Echo 3/26/07"

My intuition is always right, except for when I was sure I would marry Kirk Cameron, but this time I’m predicting Los Angeles’s own The Western States Motel, as Indie Rock’s next darlings…or at least they should be. With beautiful harmonies, both mellow and upbeat songs, cool stage presence, and emo lyrics to boot, I don’t see how they aren’t on the cover of Filter already. They even have shaggy hair and a pretty CD cover.

My intuition of greatness was confirmed last night at their show at The Echo where the foursome (Carl Jordan, Mike Schanzlin, Mike Griffin, Shannon Mckinnon) performed songs off their new album. The Western States Motel’s melodies are both sweet and haunting at once. Like a strange mood ring, TWSM can bring any emotional state to a new level- driving around yesterday feeling down, with Grey skies, their disc brought me lower, especially the melodic “Southwest Planes”, but when I say lower, I mean it in the best Elliot Smith way possible. They’ve been labeled as “Sunshine Pop” which I dared to disagree with until at their show, with friends and an excited crowd, the music made me feel all…well, sunshiny. This album as a whole seems like it was meant to be played while driving long distances during summer months, so its lucky we live in LA, always have summery-like weather and are stuck on the freeway for hours, TWSM will get you through it and cut that road rage in at least half.

Comparing his songwriting process to “coming up with a cross-word puzzle from scratch” songwriter and lead singer Carl Jordan formed TWSM after realizing he had written about five or six songs, came up with a name, and found some talented musicians to play with live. Songs off the debut album have been playing on KCRW and Indie 103.1 and have been heard on Fox’s The OC. It can be found at Amoeba Music, Sea Level iTunes, and here.


" Album Review"

Carl Jordan is The Western States Motel. It's sunny west coast folk/pop crossed with a little country and I am digging on it big time this week. Carl's songs are emotional, but nowhere near overbearing. Great travellin' tunes if you ask me... - my old kentucky blog

"wc performer-Album Review"

From the November 2006 isssue of West Coast Performer magazine

Haling from Silverlake, the Los Angeles indie mecca, The Western States Motel is the product of hardworking Carl Jordan, who sings and plays all instruments (acoustic guitar, bass, drums, keys) on the debut. Jordan also recorded the album himself, an impressive achievement due to the high production quality and layered textures found in the songs. A fine example of Jordan’s technical ability and able musicianship is “Cheap Speakers,” which has melody and harmony akin to a Grandaddy song, with nods to early Beck cheekiness.
It takes a moment for the album to hook the listener, but the catchy lure of “Powerlines” grabs like Velcro onto felt. Jordan’s fragile vocals breathe “The days are long and they sing you a song / About how all your troubles are gone / We hold it all inside our sunlight hands / We’ll never let it go, I think you understand,” and his fingers roll out lines of fertile melodies on his guitar.
Another highlight, “Southwest Planes,” enters with a strumming acoustic guitar and a trotting tempo, carrying the song into alternative folk territory. The rhythm swells into a drumbeat as playful electric guitar and sentimental lyrics spotlight the foreground: “Southwest planes in a valley haze / Taking off in the sun / One of these days and it won’t be long / You’ll look for me baby and I’ll be gone.” Jordan writes competent lyrics, which is a welcome change for a pop genre packed with juvenile poetry. Jordan’s words are snapshots of finding love, leaving love, and flirting with happiness — it’s a summery pop album!
Tragically it’s no longer summer, but this album serves as a reminder, generating gold memories of flip-flops on feet, road trips and summer flings. The Western States Motel’s self-titled album is a strong debut from a promising Los Angeles songwriter and is recommended to listeners who could use a 40-minute getaway.
(Firebird Field Recordings)

-Christopher Petro
- West Cost Performer

"NY2LON Featured Artist"

The Western States Motel is exactly what it sounds like: driving music. There's a bit of The Shins' mystical 60's psych-rock vibe and some rainy day Elliot Smith-ness to boot. Sounds good right? It is. It's nice music for a ride in the car. Or for laying on your couch hating your tendencies towards over indulgence. Western States are the band that your friends will use as case-in-point when talking about how lame your pseudo emo phase is (although it's been going on for 10 years).

Fellow-fans of the hippy-emo/acoustic-pop style that makes this band work (the writer has just confessed to his own emo-ness) will befriend the song "Powerlines" because of its dramatic chord progression and reflective lyrics. The "New E Blues", another good one, recalls Smith's "Rose Parade" but has a more optimistic outcome. This band probably fit really well into your summer mix but something tells me you might not be able to let go of its warm sounds come January. If you're looking for a loud rock show, look elsewhere, but if you need something that soundtracks your down time or driving, this is probably a good option for you.

- New York to London

"LA TIMES-buzz bands/calendar section"

The Western States Motel, the name L.A.'s Carl Jordan chose for his recording project, conjures up images of wide-open spaces, empty highways and yawning horizons — old Route 66 at burnt-orange sunset. Indeed, the sense of yearning that pervades his self-released album was cultivated on the long road trips that make for good cinema.

"A lot of the inspiration for creating the music comes from that time when you're just moving through open spaces," says Jordan, a film major who moved from Northern California to L.A. and has "driven all over this state a million times" — certainly evident in the gentle churn of songs such as "Powerlines" and "Rows of Homes."

He began writing and recording, "thinking that maybe I'd get a short film off the ground," he says. He ended up with a collection of winsome folk-rock — some of which has found its way into television and film. "It's strange to see your music put up against someone else's images," Jordan says, "but I like the process. Music is intended to be put out there and interpreted by somebody else."

Though the yearlong making of the album was virtually a solo endeavor, Jordan has hooked up Mike Griffin, Mike Schanzlin and Shannon McKinnon to mount a live band, which is only now starting to click. Says Jordan: "It's a great transition to escape the solitude of the recording process." - Los Angeles Times

"SPIN-check into the western states motel"

Writing, producing, and recording under the name the Western States Motel, California native Carl Jordan's work is the musical equivalent of that mint on your pillow at the end of the night: low-key, unexpected, and sweet. Mixing shimmery summer sounds with unlikely introspection, Jordan's songs call to mind the smooth sounds of bands like the Shins and Grandaddy. The mellow "Rows of Homes" trots along effortlessly, the poppy instrumentals a perfect foil to Jordan's Stephin Merritt-esque deadpan. The Western States Motel's eponymous debut is available now on iTunes, care of Firebird Field Recordings. - SPIN


"the western states motel," a full-length album; "painted birds flying in the orange mirror sun" ep released 9/30/08; new ep out fall of 2009



The Western States Motel is the name given to the work of Monterey, CA native and Los Angeles, CA resident Carl Jordan. The first official Western States Motel endeavor was the soundtrack to a short documentary on Johnny Cash’s infamous 1968 concert at Folsom Prison. This was followed in 2007 by the self-released, self-titled debut CD, which landed in the CMJ college radio charts it its first week at radio, and whose songs have since been featured in well-known television programs and in feature films. After numerous performances throughout the western United States in support of the album, Carl began work on a new EP, Painted Birds Flying in the Orange Mirror Sun. Relying on the same garage sale guitars and thrift store keyboards that colored The Western States Motel’s debut, this new 5-song EP was, like the album that came before it, recorded at home in a sun-filled spare bedroom, takes occasionally scrapped when a neighbor’s dog would bark too loud or too large a truck would drive by. The EP's first single, "Oh World," reached the #1 position on the Specialty Radio charts in its second week at radio, and the band is currently sharing the coveted Monday night residency at LA's spaceland with Marching Band.