The debut eponymous EP Offbeat Motif from the band Offbeat Motif is a collage of styles blended into a garage rock strut. John Hanson’s vocals are a blend of Layne Staley, Michael Stipe and Rob Dickinson and the band has some convincing moments throughout. In general, they sound very tight together. The few trips here don’t detract from the songs and instead give the listener a sense of being in the rehearsal room/garage/basement with the band as they write these songs.
Stylistically the band moves around from the Nirvana-like grunge of “Citronella” to the alt-country stomp of “Backs Against The Wall” (complete with a fiddle solo). There are Pavement-like qualities in “Pure and Ugly” and some ‘60s southern California to “Come To The Surface.”
In general, although it’s a short EP with most of the songs clocking under four minutes, it would be interesting to hear some editing of some of the songs. By the time Hanson lets loose in “Come To The Surface” the song is reinvigorated with a passion after a solo-less instrumental passage and several verses that maintain the same energy. “Pure and Ugly” and “Citronella” are similar in that while they have great grooves, sometimes they stay in the same state for quite awhile.
The flip side of this is “Take Control,” which is the best song on the EP and finds a way to balance that energy and drive throughout. There’s some strong New Adventures In Hi-Fi era R.E.M. to it and the song really builds and soars throughout.
The album closes with “Yo-Yo,” borrowing the riff from Chicago’s “25 Or 6 To 4” as an intro before moving into a more pop punk direction. There are some strong backing vocals in the song that punctuate the hooks and a melodic quote from Weezer’s “The Sweater Song.” The guitar solo is ferocious, erupting from a chorus before moving into a surprise ska break with a “Barbara Ann” vocal breakdown.
Overall, Offbeat Motif sounds like they’re a terrific live band. The lyrics are clever and the band is tight. It would be nice to hear them let loose and be a little more energetic in the studio, on their debut EP (particularly on the two closing tracks). They certainly make a strong promise for more to come.
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