When The Key launched back in 2010, the local band New Motels was a stalwart force in the indie rock scene, playing lots of gigs — they actually performed for our launch party at The Blockley — and releasing hooky power pop albums like Tilbury Sweat, reminiscent of Squeeze and The Jam.
Though the band was on indefinite hiatus by the mid-teens, frontperson and songwriter Josh Lev could occasionally be spotted at open mics and pop-up shows around the region. Now based in Jenkintown and going by his last name, he’s returned with his first handful of singles in almost a decade.
Last summer, he dropped the dreamy, Dylan-esque single “Harvard Skin.” January saw the release of “Popular Trends of the Status Quo,” which boasts gritty guitars and a New Pornographers-esue drive. On Valentine’s Day, he released a stripped-down ukulele cover of “Something” by The Beatles.
The best of the bunch, though, might be “Something You Never Would Say.” Former New Motels drummer Evan Madden assists his multi-instrumental old bandmate, with the help of keys player Dave Bonawits, and the result is a psych-rock stomp in the vein of The Apples In Stereo.
The song is built around clever turns of phrase: “You got lost in the fray / Trying to out-fox the sane,” for instance, or the bookish “Explain every moment / Like illiterate Kierkegaard.” As song progresses, though, we realize it’s cycling around self-exploration and reflection:
Then you sing a song to figure out
something you never would say
Like the bush you think to beat around
when getting carried away
Lev calls the song chapter two of his “Old Self” Trilogy, and is donating proceeds from downloads to Black Owned Philly, a platform supporting Black-owned businesses in the region. Listen to “Something You Would Never Say” below, explore Lev’s Bandcamp here, and revisit New Motels catalog here.
Tags: Lev, New Motels