One Star Hotel

Good Morning, West Gordon

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In some cases, one shouldn't read too much into a band's name. Certain band names are simply meant to be fun and catchy, and they don't necessarily tell you anything about the band's music. But in the case of the Philadelphia outfit that is heard on Good Morning, West Gordon, the name One Star Hotel is appropriate. Think of a one-star hotel, and you think of being down on your luck -- you think of disillusionment, disappointment, the school of hard knocks, the bumpy road of life. And emotionally, the road that One Star Hotel describes on Good Morning, West Gordon (which is their second album) is indeed a bumpy one. Longtime Philadelphia Inquirer critic Tom Moon has described lead singer/guitarist Steven Yutzy-Burkey as someone whose musical approach "conveys torn-apartness without even trying" -- and, to be sure, there is hardly a surplus of optimism on this 2004 release. One Star Hotel's jangly, rootsy, melodic adult alternative offerings tend to have a world-weary outlook -- the kind of outlook that comes from being hurt and disappointed too many times. The Philadelphians also have a strong sense of pop/rock craftsmanship; melancholy items like "This Fall," "Can't Be Trusted" and "Frustrated and Free" aren't groundbreaking by any means, but they're solid, emotionally honest, tuneful and well constructed. Anyone who has spent a lot of time savoring Big Star, R.E.M., Aimee Mann or the Gin Blossoms will appreciate where Yutzy-Burkey is coming from; he sounds like he has lived every word that comes out of his mouth, and that sincerity is a definite advantage on this memorable sophomore outing.

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