steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Ashley Park

"The Secretariat Motor Hotel" CD

Darling Music / Happy Happy Birthday To Me

Genres: country-rock, indie pop

PO Box 1035
Panama City, FL

Nov 17 - 23 2003

The music is nice, the music is nice.  Ashley Park blend country-rock with indie pop and make music so beautiful it will melt your heart into nothingness.  Each song on this album is based on a different occupant of the fictional Secretariat Motor Hotel, and this interesting concept is pulled off masterfully.  The band delivers an inarguably potent, thoroughly infectious album of very high quality.

Throughout The Secretariat Motor Hotel, the focus is obviously on country music, with slide guitar in practically every song.  The songwriting, however, is so well-done that the album won't ever be confined solely to Western-favouring audiences - its melodic charm will appease even the most diehard pop fans.  As well, lead singer and songwriter Terry Miles graces the album's twelve songs with his pleasant, almost Jonathan Donahue-esque vocals.  Another plus.

The songs on the album, though very similar to one another, are all wonderful, pleasant numbers.  "Father Hill's American Farm" is the first extremely noteworthy song on the disc; its subtly playful, deceptively simple melody is mixed with slide guitar and a slight bit of sixties-era psychedelic effects.  "The Ballad of Mad Cameron Howard" is also one of the album's best; its sensitive, delicate structure is host to some deviously catchy pop hooks.  "Our Glory Days," finally, could be the album's most immediately beautiful song.  It is catchy right from the first listen, and its subtly Sparklehorse and Mercury Rev influenced melodies and performance style will send you into pop euphoria.

Ashley Park's The Secretariat Motor Hotel is a beautiful album; it is definitely deserving of a spot on the list of 2003's best releases.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 12 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2003]