Mother Feather has been rocking stages around hometown NYC and beyond since 2009. The group, specializing in their brand of “pop cock rock”, is comprised of Ann Courtney (vocals), Elizabeth Carena (keyboard and vocals), Matt Basile (bass), Chris Foley (guitar), and Gunnar Olsen (drums). Mother Feather’s self-titled album dropped last year, the band’s first full-length album from Metal Blade Records. Mother Feather is raucous and buoyant, poignant and sleek. It is an album with layers of meaning, take ‘em or leave ‘em.
“Living, Breathing” opens the album in a blast of bright guitar. Carefree vocals tethered to the weight of the world extol the glory of being alive. Mother Feather evokes the reined-in frenetically feminist power of Peaches. The track feels like it is over in the blink of an eye, a wild burst of energy after which to model your mid-week parties. The next track on Mother Feather begins in a pulse of sound, a guitar-based circulatory system urged along by percussive bicuspid valves. “Mirror” has a progressive flow that doesn’t sound forced. Verses spill into a chorus that then cascades dramatically into the bridge. The lyrics bring the helpfulness of introspection via interpersonal relationships into the forefront, with lines like, “I’m just the mirror / the string around your finger / look deep into my eyes.” The track motivates and inspires. I think I’ll play it for my seedlings.Guitar artifice screams in confident indifference in the opening to “Natural Disaster”, like the first fat raindrops of a tornado warning. A slow beat gives Ann and Elizabeth the freedom to sprawl beside that guitar and loll in the melody. With the restrained simplicity of perfectly roasted vegetables, “Natural Disaster” hits hard without spreading itself too thin. I believe that may be a sign of genius. Bounding, bouncing, springing from beat to beat, moment to moment, “Trampoline” is an upbeat ode to helping others, a la RHCP’s “Give It Away”. (A parable of generosity, vaguely related to karma.) The listener can appreciate a good play on words, as Ann parses the syllables of “trampoline” with the beat, elevating the stress of the first syllable to heights that I’m sure are making every woman [who has ever donned synthetic fibers and intricate makeup in the name of music and feminism] smile and nod her head in approval.
The track titled “Mother Feather” evokes the urban landscape of the band’s hometown, in all its dirty, noisy, energetic glory. “Mother Feather” is a paean to the genesis of the group, and like the band’s origin story – a Freudian slip – in the course of taking on a life of its own, the track sublimates its original purpose. In a May 2016 review of Mother Feather, Joe Marvilli stated that the group had “all the momentum of a 747 at takeoff.” He was not wrong. The track “747” is evidence of the pure inertia Mother Feather is dealing with whenever they grab their equipment and crank out a deliciously measured beat, using it as a vehicle for lyrics that pack a punch with every line. More wordplay elevates “747” to a level of wit so tongue-in-cheek, it’s practically ear-licking in its hilarity.
Beginning with an unsettling siren sound, “Beach House” unfolds into a track with a chill vibe. I read about an fMRI study yesterday about how people react to stimuli occurring after cognitive tasks. Following the cognitive task, the unpleasantness of the stimulus was attenuated, making me wonder if the temporal and frequency regularity of the siren is priming me to hear “Beach House” in a particular way. Possibly, but probably not; it’s a good song, but I wonder about the inclusion of that damn siren. “The Power” punches you in the arm with meticulously combined guitar and percussion, smartly paired with that pop cock rock sound (I get it now). This is the sort of song that you sing in your car on one of those days when everything is going your way. Like carbonation or a compressed spring, “The Power” defies gravity.
“They Tore Down the Sk8 Park” begins with discord condensing into euphony. With strummed melody and multiple vocals the track rocks slowly, building up steam with the inclusion of some electricity-teasing strings. The lyrics reconcile reminiscence with identity without getting cheesy. The opening guitar in “Egyptology” reaches into your temporal lobes like sweat running down your back. A strong beat, loosely followed by the vocals, holds the song together with the precarious nature of a tostada piled high with ceviche – or perhaps a really moist pita sandwich. The relationship between the guitar, drums, and vocals elicits the feeling of fondly looking back on a successful party in full swing. Or, if you want to get meta, a life fully lived. The lyrics bring up that tantalizing aspect of ancient Egyptian culture – the fascination with life and death, mummies rising from the dead, Ann Rice’s vampires living forever in their shrine, and all that jazz. Spun together, each verse of “Egyptology” builds the pressure to a satisfying chorus and a volatile bridge. A fitting end to an engaging album.
In short, Mother Feather is a pop rock album that is worth your time. Mother Feather will be hitting up Carolina Rebellion in what is bound to be an enthusiastic display of artistic brilliance. Add Mother Feather to your Music Library, and rock on.