After an exciting year of virtually non-stop globetrotting, Canadian art-pop quintet MOTHER MOTHER wasted no time getting back into recording mode to create what they are pleased to present to the world as their fourth studio effort: THE STICKS, due on September 18, 2012 via Last Gang Records.
Recorded during the winter of 2012 in Mother Mother’s hometown of Vancouver and co-produced by the group’s own frontman/principle songwriter Ryan Guldemond and producer/engineer Ben Kaplan (Shakira, Mudvayne, Gallows), THE STICKS upholds Mother Mother’s tradition of tri-harmony vocal arrangements and dynamic instrumentation, while making for the group’s most eclectic and rich album to date. Lyrically, THE STICKS is also the group’s most cohesive and conceptual album thus far. When Ryan began writing for THE STICKS, one of the first songs to surface was “Bit By Bit”, an explosive track with the opening words “Bit by bit, I’m going to get my bricks out in the sticks”. This became a catalyst for a myriad of new songs encompassing a similar theme: a call to arms against the modern, man-made world and a campaign for simplicity and self-contained lifestyles. “It seems the more complex and voluminous our gadgetry becomes, the less equipped we become as people, both in original thought and survival skills,” says Ryan on the subject. “Despite my upbringing”, continues the Quadra Island-raised, “I’m not your quintessential woodsman, but I do admire the simple and self-reliant approach to life, believing it to broaden the mind and soul. This was a healthy concept to be channeling when both writing and producing THE STICKS. The outcome, I believe, is the most pure and unadorned music the band has made”.
THE STICKS starts off with opening track “Omen”, that begins with a sweet and haunting piano motif followed by the innocent timbre of a five-year-old lad singing alongside Ryan, “something about the world today makes a boy feel a bit insane”. This brief and dichotomous lullaby sets up the album’s ominous title track perfectly, like a calm before the storm. The album’s lead off single “Let’s Fall In Love”, an ironic homage to tunesmith Cole Porter, is a moody yet epic song about the foolhardy games we play in the arena of romance: “Stupid does it, ugly do it… Let’s fall in love”. The Beatles-esque number “Latter Days” is a playful anthem for the hermitic and reclusive while “Little Pistol”, a paranoidal suicide ballad, is one of the most dramatic and dynamic songs on the album; laden with lilting strings, bass clarinet and a stunning vocal arrangement. In a similar vein is “Waiting For The World To End”, the album’s penultimate track, told from an indifferent and impatient onlooker of the impending apocalypse. “To The Wild”, a steady and mesmerizing song hauntingly carried by Molly Guldemond in her unique, airy voice, is the perfect closer to an intense and dynamic journey, distilling the record’s theme in a few simple words: “Take off your cage, and go back to the wild”.
Of course any Mother Mother album could not be fully realized without the accompaniment of a striking visual interpretation by Mother Mother’s resident artist Molly Guldemond. Veering away from the signature animal themes of its three predecessors, THE STICKS album artwork quite simply and effectively encapsulates the darker subject matter of the record’s sonic offerings. The cover features Mother Mother’s signature tri-scratch design taking the form of three yellow sticks against a white background maligned with a stenciling of the group moniker and album title with black spray paint, while the artwork inside the packaging depicts the orderly, complex and calculated modern world in a losing battle against nature, wild and anarchistic. “The songs lent themselves to artistic interpretation with a rich pool of imagery to draw from,” shares Molly, “there are a lot of literal translations of the lyrics in the artwork. I love strong simple graphics, and I like how they juxtapose with the theme of this record. It’s the untamable chaos of nature crashing into the man-made structure of pop culture.”
THE STICKS follows a whirlwind year of near constant touring in support of Mother Mother’s previous release, the critically acclaimed EUREKA. The album once again put Mother Mother at the top of Canada’s indie charts, but also planted the group quite prominently onto the mainstream radar. EUREKA produced three Top 20 alternative radio singles including the infectious smash hit “The Stand” which peaked at #3 at Canadian alternative (#5 at modern rock), and yielded a Juno-nominated music video. Already widely commended for their exceptional live show, it comes as no surprise that Mother Mother’s popularity on the heels of EUREKA further translated into sold out performances at 1000-2000 capacity venues in nearly every major market in Canada and rendered the group a summer music festival attraction with appearances at some of Canada’s most popular music festivals such as Ottawa Blues Fest, Osheaga, Hillside and Calgary Stampede to name a few. The album’s success also earned the group their first Juno Award nomination, as well as two Sirius XM Indie Award nominations. Internationally, Mother Mother’s reception is already mirroring that of their homeland’s, indicative by the recognition they’ve garnered from institutions such as BBC Radio, MTV, and tastemaker publications Q, Spin and Paste among others.
Mother Mother’s rapid ascent from an acoustic folk trio touring the open mics of their hometown to an internationally revered alternative pop/rock five-piece touring the clubs, theaters and event centers of North America and Europe not only demonstrates just how far they’ve come but has also blazed the trail for what’s to follow. Featuring the multi-talented line up of Ryan Guldemond (vocals/guitar), Molly Guldemond (vocals/synth), Jasmin Parkin (vocals/keys), Jeremy Page (bass/horns) and Ali Siadat (percussion/electronics), Mother Mother’s unique blend of clever lyrics, stunning vocals, quirky arrangements and a multi-dimensional sound both on stage and in the studio has amassed the group a reputation that’s brought about their celebration as indie darlings, all the while endearing to the mainstream. The release of THE STICKS to the world promises to maintain that delicate balance for the group while poising them for far greater milestone accomplishments and accolades both domestically and abroad.