CD Reviews 10 Mar 2006

Motor Primitives CD Scan0001MOTOR PRIMITIVES – Be the Engine

(2005   Boat Records)

Last summer’s debut CD by the Motor Primitives was one of the year’s highlights; singer Pam Barrett crooned and snarled her way through twelve tightly constructed rock tunes.  Be the Engine is a five-song EP cut over a single weekend at Coney Island Studios just before Christmas.  Be the Engine follows somewhat closely on the heels of the debut album which received glowing reviews.  These could be songs left over from the first disc or brand-new ones but either way it’s another fine collection of confident performances and the growth in the band is measurable, even if the blueprint is similar.

The move to Coney was a good one; the guitars shimmer and the rhythm section packs much more punch.  The first release was also a bit over-compressed and Be the Engine sounds freer and more open.  Given the limited time to record, the EP doesn’t have much in the way of vocal harmonies; Barrett’s singular voice plays through much of the material.  “Sundown” is another story, however, a gorgeous piece of minimalist Americana.  Barrett’s vibrato fits the pulse of the song and there is a very cool backing vocal track.  The guitar tones are sweet and the melody infectious – a great piece of music. 

Guitarist Kat Spring gets a bit more daring on these songs as well, turning in a gutsy solo at the end of the opening track.  She comes up with several nice parts to augment Barrett’s rhythm guitar, especially on “Canopy,” another strong song.

The title track is “Be the Engine, Part 1,” a cool acoustic guitar statement that is driven home by relentless rhythm and a thick bottom end.  “Part 1” begs the question of whether there is a “Part 2” in the making and either a full-length that may include some of these songs, or a continuation of the band’s evolution in the form of all-new material.  My bet is on the latter as this band is far too confident about what they have to offer to look back.

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About the author

Rick Tvedt

Rick is publisher of Local Sounds Magazine, formerly Rick's Cafe, Wisconsin's Regional Music Newspaper. He is also the Executive Director for MAMA, Inc., a non-profit organization that produces the Madison Area Music Awards and raises funds to promote youth music programs.

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