On Motel City Honey, Levee Drivers show their teeth by dragging every rough edge and feral strain within their music from the outskirts to the surface. It’s a dizzying, lethal energy that surges like a storm throughout their long awaited debut, patiently building tension until finally boiling over and accelerating like a rush of blood to the head. Guided by the titanic vocals of frontman and songwriter August John Lutz II, the bands songs often unfold like individual scenes, with guitars, bass and drums forming a backbone that makes every escalating emotion feel urgent and believable. Filling the spaces between clean hands and all out demolition, there’s both a sensitivity and explosiveness to their sound that’s enough to convince even the most stubborn skeptics that the glory days of gritty rock and roll -born in dingy garages and grown in smoke filled bars- will never pass by completely. Although for anyone who’s ever seen Lutz, lead guitarist Kyle Perella, drummer Jeff Orlowski and bassist Jon Covert perform a live set on a dim, beer soaked stage, it won’t be any surprise that Motel City Honey finds Levee Drivers firmly in control of the fires they start and the smoke they leave behind.
Set amongst the brawling blues rock of “There You Go,” “Off Them Tracks,” “Cinnamon Eyes” and “Motel City Honey,” is a vulnerability that’s as richly defined as any jagged cut. Powerfully felt on a song like “Miss Recklessness,” the track starts slow and spare before revving up and winding down to reveal the quiet desperation that’s carved into every syllable that leaves Lutz’s lips. Sung as direct and pained as the words themselves,“Baby them drugs you got, they don’t work,” feels like both a warning to another and a reluctant concession to oneself that some circumstances cannot or will not be easily repaired. Although it’s another song that combines those elements of stillness and composure with the collections go for broke, open throttle magnetism that the band smartly chooses to leave the listener with. Closing out the album, “Old Hearts” has Lutz sounding gravelly and broken, singing over nothing but an electric guitar before the band joins in and he pushes his vocal cords until they’ve practically been ripped to shreds. It’s an illuminating mix that takes root again and again, giving this band and their very first record so much of its passion and mettle.
Article: Caitlin Phillips