West End Motel: Only Time Can Tell 

Warner Bros. Records

This side project of Mastodon's Brent Hinds and Tom Cheshire of the Rent Boys and All Night Drug Prowling Wolves asks that you check your expectations at the door. It doesn't even sound that much like the group's prior releases. There's still that slinky bar-bred strut that's always been kind of implicit in Cheshire's lithe croon. Meanwhile, the music's hopped up on '70s radio. This hodgepodge includes Springsteen-inspired blues-soul complete with a sax solo ("Witch Is Dead"), jazzy island bounce ("El Myr"), Mariachi rock ("Forgiveness"), and the terrific title track, which suggests Spoon covering the Dead. It's catchy and driving music built for the road or even the party, as with horn-laden psychedelic jam "Burn It Down." Yet these eight tracks succeed on their own, rather than together as an album. (3 out of 5 stars)


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