Friday, January 30, 2009

West End Motel on Ponce De Leon

Chad was nice enough to send me his latest single from West End Motel on his very own Ponce De Leon records a while back...I first heard about Ponce De Leon through his release of a Hubcap City single he put together. In emailing back and forth he talked about finally wanting to put something out there...loving singles and his experiences with the tiny artifacts, the packaging, printing surrounding the release and wanting to finally do it for himself on a modest scale...that's just plain good ol' DIY thinkin'.
This whole mess of file sharing and Chinese Democracy wouldn't even exist if people got into distributing and making the music out of a love for it. Not to say you can't make money, but when it's all business, then you are going to fail. No one will bail you out like the car companies. There is no sympathy for you anywhere. Your are middle men. And the record stores that support you should go down to. Fuck Tower, fuck Virgin, even the tiny mom and pop place that carries's a bad idea. I can't feel sorry for you. You failed to adapt to an evolving business model and Apple beat you...big time. They are more of a record label now then you ever were.

That leads me back to the new Corporate press release from Ponce De Leon, who just finished pressing a massive run....ok I don't know how many they pressed but it's not many, I'm going to stop dicking around...the first 100 are on white and Chad may just have a few available.

But let's get to the single...this is really a mini EP with 4-tracks.

Side A:
"Oh I'm On my Way" & "There's Gotta Be More to this Life"
Side B:
"Under my Skin" & "Women Come and Go"

West End Motel features guitarist Brent Hinds (Mastodon, Fiend Without A Face) and vocalist Tom Cheshire (All Night Drug Prowling Wolves, Rent Boys, Kidd Boom Boom, Indigo Boys)
My limited experience with both Mastadon and All Night Drug prowling Wolves leads me to believe that this is a hugely different direction for both artists. It's kind of country, kind of punk, with acoustic guitars and a minimal recording setup.
The insert says these songs were written in 2005, (but recorded recently?), either way I don't know if this is a side project unintended for public consumption or how much convincing Chad had in it's conception.
Not no-fi by any means, there's a really nice room tone here, a really intimate sounding recording that catches everything from Tom whispering before a take or someone distant yelling from a few rooms away. Completely recorded live, the instrument is in the same room. This sounds like some friends house in the middle of the night.
'Go grab the 4-track, we're wasted and I got an idea.' I love they include the moments while the tape was rolling and hearing exactly the mundane things they were talking about. 'Man you're thing is messed up.' Before literally every track is that disconnected rambling that gives it that homemade tape quality, you're present for this intimate moment, for this experiment.
But what exactly is the context here? Was this recorded specifically as this side project? I want to imagine in between All Night Drug Prowling sessions they would have a few minutes and Brent was stopping by to see how things were going and they ended recording a couple of tracks.

A-Side 'Oh I'm on my way' ends up like all West End Motel tracks in a chorus of Tom's gravely voice layered with whoever happened to be in the room, like a biker sing-a-long. it has a sparsely sound, like the mic is in a old abandoned cabin or bar in a ghost town, some one grabs a high hat and pounds out a count during the chorus.
Tom's voice is just plain bad ass. He's from the Tom Waits school of vocal chord abuse, that what makes it sound to me at times like punk unplugged sessions. He's got the intensity of a live whiskey fueled show but is really selling this melancholy stuff to the alt-country set at the same time.
The second track on the A-Side 'There's gotta be more to this life' is another bar. The guitar work is great, the traditional southern jam with minimal percussion....especially on the B-side which features distant slide guitar and finger picked steel acoustic.

The cover is black and white photography by Ken Adkins. Minimal black and white shots of pieces of decrepit barns....and it's all coming together. One complete isolated desolate wilderness of a single.

Get it from
Chad and Ponce De Leon records directly, or West End's myspace....I know Chad is really putting out these singles from the perspective of someone who lives music everyday, writes about it, and thinks about it. He's willing to put his money where his mouth is and press singles to share something great.

There's nothing better than that.


  1. FYI: many mom and pop record stores rely on selling some copies of the newest, and sometimes oldest, pop groups. It would be near-impossible for many of them to expand or take on more inventory if they didn't cater to a few customers only looking for that Prince album...or whatever it happens to be. I work in an independent shop here in Vancouver (longest running, too, at 28 years!) and the business was about to go under about 15 years back until the owner decided to bring in some "guaranteed to sell" schlock. The store was able to expand and take on a staff of 13 in the years since. Very very few record stores can maintain their business by just stocking "good" "underground" shit. Aquarius Records and Exile in Portland are the only two that I've ever been to that are long running shops that have been able to succeed at that. It's a sad state but it's the truth.

    Anyways, don't mean to ruffle any feathers, just trying to get you to see the side of the independents that you might not have thought of.

    Love the blog, by they way. Keep it coming.

  2. It's true....a brick and mortar store is probably only going to exist at this point selling the titles with guaranteed sales. The overhead etc...I guess if that allows you stock more of the underground shit then be it. it's better than nothing.
    It's a crazy business to get into today anyway...