One Star Hotel | Good Morning, West Gordon

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Rock: Americana Rock: Roots Rock Moods: Type: Lyrical
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Good Morning, West Gordon

by One Star Hotel

"The sonic equivalent of an Edward Hopper painting, the band's Americana-flavored music displays haunted portraits of broken-down people and palaces, made more poignant by the occasional string and horn arrangements. Wilco fans will dig it." John Takiff,
Genre: Rock: Americana
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Frustrated and Free
3:29 $0.99
2. Can't Be Trusted
2:54 $0.99
3. Starlight
2:57 $0.99
4. Kings
2:49 $0.99
5. Falling Down
3:45 $0.99
6. Two and Four
3:30 $0.99
7. Same Town
5:06 $0.99
8. River Drive
2:32 $0.99
9. This Fall
2:03 $0.99
10. Thunderhead
4:25 $0.99
11. Good Morning, West Gordon
3:58 $0.99
12. In the Spring
3:39 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"Conveys torn-apartness without even trying... transforming those overworked three chords into something almost magical again."
--Tom Moon, Philadelphia Inquirer

The year 2004 chased Philadelphia's One Star Hotel through lineup changes, anguished pre-production, floods (in their funeral parlor-turned-rehearsal space), car crashes and van breakdowns. Left only with a belief in their songs and a few drops of gas in the tank, they resolved to make a getaway: ditching meticulous demos, the band performed its new songs live at Miner Street Studios [Burning Brides, Mazarin, Bigger Lovers] for Brian McTear's vintage gear to capture. Good Morning, West Gordon displays the members at this, their most vulnerable-struggling to return to the heart of the city and music they love. Raw tracks in tow, the band spent months completing the mix with eclectic sounds found in churches, studios and in the very streets that inspired the songs. In the end, stirring performances and vast arrangements transcend this Philadelphia backdrop with a desperate statement of hope that rings true in any town.

Sonically, One Star Hotel recalls the indie-pop of Wilco and The Flaming Lips as readily as the time-tested material of Big Star and Neil Young. On stage, the quartet brings new energy to its lush album arrangements, sometimes slipping into childhood radio hits with unexpected sincerity. Released in 2003 to glowing reviews, the Americana-leaning self-titled debut offers the band's straightest interpretations of Steve Yutzy-Burkey's evocative songs. Building on this, Good Morning, West Gordon brings its own depth of production and a confidence that can't be ignored. Stereo Field Recordings is proud to announce the release of One Star Hotel's Good Morning, West Gordon.

One Star Hotel (2003), Stereo Field Recordings
Good Morning, West Gordon (2004), Stereo Field Recordings



to write a review

Philadelphia Weekly

One Star Hotel's sophomore release builds effortlessly on their stellar debut.
Ragged Glory

One Star Hotel's sophomore release builds effortlessly on their stellar haunting Americana debut.

by Bob Hill

When last we left them in spring of 2003, city scribes from Tom Moon to yours truly were echoing the same sentiment: "Loved the hors d'oeuvres. Can't wait for the main course."

The band's self-titled debut (an EP turned LP) was an eclectic collection of tunes that left fans thirsting for more. There was a minimalist charm to Steve Yutzy-Burkey's lack of vocal range. It slid down dilapidated lyrical passages, wrapping itself around the desperate corridors of redbrick Philadelphia.

Along those corridors, the foundation of One Star's sound began to emerge--haunting, acoustic, never rushing to meet a chorus.

With expectations set on stun, it would've been easy for Yutzy-Burkey and bandmates Daryl Hirsch, Alec Meltzer and Rick Sieber to outgrow their blue-jean britches. It would have been tempting to amp things up a bit, to throw guitar solos in a thousand places they didn't belong, to layer the shit out of every track.

It would've been easy for One Star Hotel to think themselves rock stars.

Fortunately, they did not.

"Other people may have expectations for what this record should be," says Yutzy-Burkey. "I think we put 10,000 times more pressure on ourselves. I'm not saying we were in any way unhappy with the last album. We just wanted to do better this time around."


Good Morning, West Gordon, out Nov. 23 on Stereo Field Recordings, builds upon the band's early strengths without departing from them. It represents the next step in a natural progression--an endearing record that's sullen in all the right places.

"We definitely did our thing here, and we did it in a very organic way," says keyboardist Hirsch. "We wanted to use some very specific sounds and ideas to create this record, and I think we did that. We spent a great deal of time cycling and listening to our demos in order to make sure every part worked. Once that was done, we were able to add a lot of the creative elements you hear in the songs."

Those elements include chirping birds, talking babies and the buzz of morning traffic--each used to paint an urban mosaic of subtle proportions.

"West Gordon was a street in Strawberry Mansion where I worked for a pipe-fitter organ company," says Yutzy-Burkey. "In a very weird way, it helped shape the image we had for the album. It came from the idea of the people I saw every morning along that street, leaving on their way to work or heading to the corner bar."

The title track, like several others on West Gordon, takes a slow and simple approach, placing an equal emphasis on storytelling and instrumentation as core elements in the songwriting process. Mike "Slo-Mo" Brenner reprises his role as resident lap and pedal steel aficionado on three songs, and Darin Kelly checks in on trumpet.

There are moments when Yutzy-Burkey attempts to eclipse his own vocal range, or Hirsch goes slightly overboard on the keys. Take "Thunderhead," a song whose ivory cadence sounds like a mix between the theme from Doctor Who and season one of The Rockford Files.

But these moments are few and far between, and they fail to overshadow the quartet's Dickensian tales of woe.

"We were very fortunate with this album." Yutzy-Burkey says. "We worked with some great people, and we could do pretty much whatever we wanted or needed to do to get it right. I'm really happy with all the methods we used to record it and thankful to all the people who helped us make it happen."

One Star has spent a good portion of the past year on the road and in the studio. With the new record ready for release, and the mini-tour complete, they return to the home stage for a record release show at the North Star Friday. Also on the bill are Buried Beds, Shai Halperin (of the Capitol Years), Future Tips and BC Camplight.

Will this disc be the vehicle that finally lands One Star Hotel a much-sought-after recording contract? Will local radio care enough to get behind them? And what is a Yutzy-Burkey, anyway?

Who cares? It's a damn good record.

Good morning, West Gordon.

Knight Ridder Newspapers

Wilco fans will dig it.
"There’s plenty of character in the Philly music stop One Star Hotel, checking in with "Good Morning, West Gordon" (Stereo Field). The sonic equivalent of an Edward Hopper painting, the band’s Americana-flavored music displays haunted portraits of broken-down people and palaces, made more poignant by the occasional string and horn arrangements. Wilco fans will dig it. B+"
-Jonathan Takiff, Knight Ridder Newspaper

Philadelphia Inquirer

reminiscent of Wilco, without the ambient noise
An inviting One Star Hotel

Old ways blend with new styles.
By Dan DeLuca
Inquirer Music Critic

When Steve Yutzy-Berkey moved to Philadelphia in 1999, he took a job at a pipe-organ repair shop on West Gordon Street in the Strawberry Mansion section.

"I really loved it," the leader of One Star Hotel said. "It's such an interesting old craft. You'd go into these old pipe-organ chambers and find all sorts of things back there." ("Two and Four," one of the band's well-worn, poetic songs, is about hearing of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 while inside one such chamber.)

"I'm just fascinated with that old stuff," he said.

The roots-rock band will celebrate the release of its second album, Good Morning, West Gordon, with a show at the North Star Bar tonight.

Yutzy-Berkey, 28, became fascinated by old stuff growing up Mennonite in Lancaster, observing the conflict between modern development and preservation.

"I definitely like the old style of craft, whether it's in building houses or writing songs," he said, sitting in a coffee shop near the 150-year-old Northern Liberties house he lives in with his wife, Krista.

In crafting West Gordon - featuring the tuneful opener "Frustrated and Free" and revved-up "River Drive," which are reminiscent of Wilco, without the ambient noise - One Star Hotel was assisted by local luminaries such as Mike "Slo-Mo" Brenner and recording engineer Brian McTear (of Bitter, Bitter Weeks).

The band members produced the record themselves, however, doing most of the recording at High Lonesome Sound, Yutzy-Berkey's mini-home studio, and showing substantial growth since the release of their 2003 eponymous debut.

"I always struggle between trying to make something well-crafted and timeless, but also new and interesting," Yutzy-Berkey said. "With this record, we tried harder, on both accounts, to dig deeper."

Joe Whyte

I love this record
I picked up this record after hearing 3 songs online, which I found on a whim. Those 3 songs were so good, I had to buy the whole record. Amazing.
Yes, there are similarities with Wilco and Richmond Fontaine, but they are definitely doing their own thing with some great songwriting and an amazing band. I can't wait to see what the live show is like.
Go buy this record!!