Motopony [FRIDAY]

Seattle indie rock band Motopony distills the last four years of spell-crafting, songwriting, knot tying, child bearing, rebuilding, reimagining and rebirth with their sophomore effort Welcome You. It is a welcome and a warning. It is the humility to admit we didn’t get it quite right, even though we welcome life with open hearts, do our very best, and always return to the path. The desperate fact is, we don’t actually know where it goes. The first single “Daylights Gone” is a song relating major character changes to the phases of the moon, and the “to what” question implicit in the title, “Welcome You” presents the mystery of identity to the listener.

The record, the follow up to the band’s acclaimed 2011 self-titled debut, was recorded live to analog tape at Bear Creek Studios in Seattle and was produced by Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Heartless Bastard, …Trail of The Dead) and mixed in London by Guy Massey (Spiritualized, Radiohead, Manic Street Preachers). The band will be touring the US, and Europe in support of the release through 2015.

Indeed, the Seattle outfit’s long and sometimes convoluted journey to its current stature as one of America’s hottest and most acclaimed young bands has been an unconventional one. In the TK years since chief visionary Blue first launched it as his creative alter ego, Motopony has evolved through a variety of permutations, into its current form as an expansive sextet whose raw-nerved mix of vivid lyrical explorations, inventive sonic textures and hard-rocking melodic punch mark it as a singularly potent musical force.

Motopony’s resonant merging of emotional warmth and hard-hitting assertiveness is prominent throughout Idle Beauty’s five sonically diverse yet consistently potent tracks, which range from the infectious, anthemic exhortation of “Get Down (Come Up”) to the humanistic uplift of “About A Song” to the intimate immediacy of “Buffalo Medicine” to the epic flight of “She Is Spirit’ to the haunting spoken-word excursion of “Breakthru.”

The band’s first album Motopony became a grass-roots hit despite its low-key release on the independent Tiny Ogre label. The album sold over 10,000 copies and was embraced by an impressive groundswell of fans, critics and alternative radio stations, which helped to make the infectious tune “King of Diamonds” a viral hit.

Some of the band’s most enthusiastic support came from Seattle’s influential KEXP, which commented, “Motopony is the essence of folk ‘n’ roll on fire with poetic passion.” Meanwhile, Austin’s KUT praised Blue and company’s “incredibly catchy tunes” and L.A.’s tastemaking KCRW noted, “Motopony is an automatic for the KCRW airwaves. The lyric and musicality is magnetic.”

MTV, meanwhile, proclaimed Motopony “the best band ever,” while Paste magazine raved about the group’s “exuberant personality and untamed vocals” and Nylon enthused, “We haven’t been able to get Motopony out of our heads” and praised the band’s “easy, blues-spiked melodies that can’t help but feel simultaneously new and weirdly familiar.”

Motopony has already toured widely, winning attention for the impassioned intensity of its live sets at the SXSW and Bumbershoot festivals, with Rolling Stone naming the band as one of 25 Can’t-Miss Acts of SXSW 2012. Meanwhile, various Motopony tracks have been featured on several TV shows, including House, Hung, Cougar Town, Suits and How to Make It In America.

The musical and emotional qualities that have won Motopony such loyal support have been deeply ingrained in the band’s DNA ever since Daniel Blue first responded to his urge to make music. Having grown up in Colorado and Washington state in a religious family in which he was forbidden to listen to secular music, he nevertheless found himself drawn to music as a vehicle of expression.

After establishing himself in Tacoma, WA’s creative community as a graphic artist and clothing designer, Daniel threw himself headlong into music, teaching himself to play a battered guitar with three of its strings removed. It was on that guitar that he quickly wrote his initial batch of “about 50″ original songs, which became the foundation for the band that still only existed in his head.

“I just called it Motopony and never got off the train,” he recalls. “I didn’t know where it was going, but I felt guided and felt a singularity of purpose, and eventually I found my voice.”

Blue’s initial burst of songwriting provided the raw material for the first Motopony album, which grew out of his unlikely rapport with hip-hop/electronica producer Buddy Ross.

“To me, my collaboration with Buddy was the ‘Moto’ and the ‘Pony': the mechanical part and the organic part. I wanted to combine those things, so I approached Buddy with my twee brokenhearted folkie love songs and he helped me take them to a different place.”