Gods Reflex - Scenes From a Motel Seduction
Johann's Face

Over the past 8 months, I've seen Gods Reflex play upwards of a dozen
times.  Each show, they seemed to have more and more new material to play
for the audience, and each song seemed to sound better than the one before
it.  After each successive show, I got more and more anxious for their new
CD.  All this built up to their release show at the Fireside Bowl on May
25th, which I was in attendance for.  I was psyched to the point of
ridicule by my friend for their set, as I knew it would be great.  What
transpired was a fairly sloppy, uninspired set with about 2/3 of the songs
being halfway-mediocre and not being even remotely recognizable to me.
Those songs were labeled as "new" and they were on the new album,
apparently.  I stood scratching my head, wondering where all incredible
songs I had heard months prior had gone.  I still bought their album,
hoping there might have been a mistake.  Here is what I received.

The album starts off with "How I learned to unwind," which sounds a bit like Karate with faster drums. Nothing too original, and I don't particularly care for it as an album opener. Zach's vocals immediately sound less Jawbreaker-esque, which is a plus. These guys need to come into their own. The 2nd song is a re-recording of "Careering" from their Shifting 7" on Rebound Records. As it happens with most bands who choose to re-record a 7" song for an album, the 7" version is much superior than the album verison [the most notable case of this is the Get Up Kids re-recording of "I'm a Loner..." on their new LP]. The song just seemed to lose its power and speed with the new recording. "Blessings" is next, and it's a fairly good mid-tempo rock song with a nice instrumental breakdown which will get the heads bobbing. "Put down that guitar" is next, and immediately gets an Alkaline Trio vibe attached to it, until their little guitar arpeggios kick in. The song then proceeds to the chorus, where the music sounds identical to Dynamite Boy's song on the "There Is A Light" compilation [the song's name escapes me]. "Shifting" starts off quietly, with distortion and drums coming in about halfway through. The song just doesn't seem to have any energy to it, although it seems like they're trying.

We're now halfway through the album and so far there have not really been any standouts. Let's see what tracks 6-10 give us.
"Mayday" starts things off right, with a nice solid beat behind it and a somewhat-catchy chorus. It also contains Phil's best backing vocals to date, as A)you can actually hear what he's saying, and B)it is IN TUNE. My biggest problems with Phil's vocals, both on CD and live, is that he seems to not care. To me, I don't want to hear wrong notes in the backing vocals when I know what they should sound like. Don't be sloppy. Moving on, "Why I Hate Texas" is the 2nd re-recorded song, this one being already on the "Pocket Bomb" compilation on Law Of Inertia Records.
It was a good song on the comp, and it stood out over some of the others [due to the glut of mediocre bands on it, such as the Wayouts], but it sounds just OK here. Had it been on their first album, this would probably be considered one of the "throwaway" tracks. "Monologue..." is next, and frankly, it is boring. The bar chords, the palm muting, the song structure [soft-loud-soft-etc.] just sound like a lot of the songs already on the album. I know these guys are better than this, so why is it on here? "Rainbows and Frogs" starts to wind the album down, being the second slow song in a row. It sounds pretty and all, but I've heard it done many times before by better bands. The song makes 3 1/2 minutes seem like an eternity, with the same guitar part just repeating over and over and never picking up. "Of Self and Promise" finishes off the album, and it give the album a nice recovery. It's a good 3 minute poppy song as only Gods Reflex can do, although the chorus sounds EXACTLY like a Reggie & The Full Effect song [of all bands], with some of the words and almost all of the music lining up perfectly. Zach sings "What will they say / when I'm not around? / I'll never know" as Reggie sings "What's your name / Now you're all alone / You'll never know" [or something to the effect of that, as I can't find the exact lyrics]. That was a bit of a letdown, GR are more than competent as songwriters, and they don't need to copy someone like that, intentionally or not.

Overall, this is probably the biggest musical disappointment I will experience this year. I heard Gods Reflex play plenty of material that wasn't on this album; where did it all go to? It seems like this was thrown together halfheartedly, and this band is better than that. The only real saving grace of this album is their lyrics. Zach is truly one of the best songwriters in the independant scene in my mind, and he needs to get the credit he deserves. Other than that, the only really interesting thing about this album is a fact I learned from my friend after she looked at it closely: the motel on the cover is the same one her old boyfriend and her would frequent to have sex. That fact honestly is more interesting than the majority of this album. I'll take "A Brief Lesson In Affection" any day.
...scott heisel...

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