Mother Mother is an indie rock group out of Vancouver British Columbia. I saw them live once five years ago at the Liberty Longue at the Mount Royal University, where they played to a crowd of twenty (or maybe less). I had no idea who they were at the time and I was unsure what to make of Mother Mother back then. They were weird which I often site as a good thing since weirdness and creativity often coexist, but Mother Mother was/is weird in a way that does not really suit me. The baby voices the girls sing in, I didn’t entirely care for, and there seemed to be strong reoccurring theme of femininity and childishness in their song lyrics and their stage presence that I cannot say I relate too or appreciate. I sort of forgot about Mother Mother after that, I remembered who they were and what their song style was like but I never got into them, I think I even went through a phase where I thought they were terrible, but things change.
On the last day of the Calgary Stampede I decided I was going to do everything I had meant to do all nine Stampede days prior in one day. So I drank a bottle of wine, saw Mother Mother live on the Coca Cola stage, watched the fireworks, and came into work the next day tired and hung over, as is my custom. Everyone I talked to before the concert (all of them female interestingly enough) enjoyed my story of yesteryear when I saw Mother Mother play for less than two dozen people. This was interesting to me, because this meant I knew about Mother Mother before a majority of their hardcore fans. When I got home I realized I had dirt on my face, neck, and all over my pant legs. I even had a small trickle of blood running down my forehead where I had been unintentionally kicked in the head by a crowd surfer. I got a lot more banged up then I would have expected at a concert by a light indie rock band from the left coast that I have always considered “feminine” and “childish.” Regardless I had a good time.
Anyway enough about me and my adventures, Mother Mother are weird.
Everything about them is weird. Front man Ryan Guldemond along with the two girls Molly Guldemond (Ryan’s sister I assume), and Jasmin Parkin all look like the “artsy” crowd to me, and that usual entails at least some strangeness. The tones used by the girls on Mother Mother, the baby voices I call them, is odd, and I have had more than one conversation about the name of the band Mother Mother and how it might be a deliberate name choice to describe their unorthodox style of sound. For me though it has been the themes Mother Mother’s songs in correlation with the song style that makes Mother Mother seem so weird. They have multiple songs with lyrics referring to babies and maternal instincts and concerns, and it is just a little odd to see a tall, well dressed, blonde man sprouting a Mohawk sing songs that often times sound like they are coming from a female perspective. It could be reasoned that Ryan is simply the voice for the band as a whole and since forty percent of the band is female I am just picking up on their influence on the song writing, or it could be that as a man with strong archaic masculine sensibilities that society has left me and my outdated notions of female gentility and male stoicism in the dust. I guess it could be a lot of things.
It is not often I can point to one song as the deciding factor why I have decided to like a band after being indifferent towards them for half a decade, but I can for Mother Mother, it’s “Simply Simple.” When I first heard the song I knew who it was because I recognized Ryan and the girls’ voices, as well as the unique use of keyboards, a style I was not sold on, and once again with subject matter that did not speak to my testosterone pumped perspective. Still I could not ignore the obvious truth that “Simply Simple,” was a great song. Simplicity is a beautiful thing sometimes, and I doubt it is intentional, but “Simply Simple” proves itself to be a great example of a simple structured song that works really well. I have seen Ryan with a guitar sitting on a coach in someone’s living room with the girls and they performed an awesome version of “Simply Simple,” it is rather remarkable what three people can create with just one instrument. It cannot be ignored that the melodies created between these three voices is working well, it’s a good thing they found each other.
When the year began I thought about picking “Simply Simple,” as one of my favorite songs of last year, but I wanted to brood over the idea and try to figure out some of my perceived weirdness about Mother Mother. It is funny, that a band I ignored for the better part of a decade has given me so many little things to discuss and at least two quasi interesting stories to tell. They have also given me at least one great song in amongst a collection of what I am starting to appreciate as good songs.
Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.
- Colin Kelly
Also a great "simple" acoustic version: