[Release date 25.09.20]

Based in Astbury Park, New Jersey, Connor Brand (lead guitar and vocals) has a whiff of a look of a young Springsteen.  But hometown aside, that’s about where the similarities end – MLB being a blues rock band.

Having released a hi-octane debut In The Light Of Day in 2016, and following it up with a live album in 2019, the band’s sophomore studio release – Nightbird Motel – is something of a rarity in these modern times – an album that has a wonderfully unpolished rawness.

There’s some fantastic vocal and guitar work that you can just tell hasn’t been overly rehearsed, evoking memories of better days when bands just ‘plugged in’ and played and sounded all the better for it.

The set opens with a massive statement of intent in the form of ‘When The World Stops Turning’ (apt in current times) – a wonderful explosive number with an almost new wave punk ‘edge’, that comes across like Budgie’s Burke Shelley fronting an Americanised Arctic Monkeys.  It’s stacked with attitude, fresh and vibrant.

But the album is quite diverse – ‘Read On You’ is a Faces style feel good, party time number, ‘Darkness’ a driving rocker scored Tom Petty style with some fantastically loose lead guitar work.

‘Photographs Of Johnny Cash’ has a sixties Beatles rock ‘n’ roll groove, ‘Blame On Me’ is a Wille & The Bandits fully plugged in U2 ‘Bullet The Blue Sky’-style psychedelia wig out, and ‘Liquorstore’ is an unholy marriage of Quo and The Undertones.

‘Voice On The Radio’ has distant strains of AC/DC with yet more unrestrained guitar work, as does ‘Nightbird’ – another Petty style melodic rocker which, along with ‘Dream Of You And Me’, comes as close to The Boss as MLB get, while the delicate acoustic ‘Reprise’ instrumental that closes the set shows yet another side to the band in Rod The Faces Ooh La La style.

Fabulously unpolished, and like sticking a wet finger into a 240 volt socket.  Explore the band’s catalogue at  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 30 August 2020.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 8 September 2020.

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