Review: Motherhood – DIAMONDS + GOLD

Well, I mean, it’s about time. Right? Of course.

Motherhood have been, probably, the best band in Fredericton for the last few years. I’m not sure that’s even debatable. Wearing red and white striped influences of hard blues rock and gritty, rode hard vocals on their sleeves, they’ve gone through lineup changes and breathed new life into the scene. They’ve spearheaded their own festival as the figureheads of the Shifty Bits Cult. They’ve torn up show after show, sometimes in themed costume. They’ve grown up a bit. They’ve gotten tight as fuck.

They’re the real deal, and they finally have the album they deserve.

Full disclosure, DIAMONDS + GOLD isn’t all new material. Some of these tracks (“ABE” and “Youngest Fool”) have appeared on previous Motherhood releases. This is trivial, though, because the band have finally captured their live sounds through a recording. They’re not fucking around, either. And, the result is a huge album from a tremendously competent and passionate three-piece replete with hurt feelings and dark overtones that are surprising for super-chill folks who are only, like, twenty-two.

Album opener, “Youngest Fool”, is up-tempo and rowdy. Brydon Crain’s plaintive wail walks us through familiar territory while Penelope Stevens’ harmonies prop us up. Adam Sipkema’s drumming is so perfect in this band; it’s full and not overcomplicated. Really, it’s the Motherhood you know and love (or, if you don’t know them, you’re about to). And then Penelope’s vocals in the outro! Sure, I know these folks. And, sure, I’ve probably wound up playing guest percussion on this track at a show, but it feels so good to hear these songs given the heart and care they deserve.

And, that’s the theme for the whole album. Smart tones. Clean production. Rich sounds. It’s like you’re on stage with the band and shouting along to all the lyrics. Engineer and producer Dan Tweedie has brought out the attitude the band is known for (which is, increasingly, something he’s known for). It’s real. It’s real good. That’s what. Yeah. Yeah I did.

Let’s talk about standout moments for a second, shall we? How about Penelope’s lead vocals on “Hocus Pocus”, a minimalist drone with thrumming organ tones and a surging buildup? How about Brydon’s creepy falsetto on “Winter”? After a piano intro that manages to be both warm and heartbroken at the same time? Or maybe you’re more into the sounds of the band throwing shit around and losing their minds during “The News”? The Saturday Night Live-outro-hugfest that wraps up “River”? No? Maybe the albums ten minute, crushing, blues stomp album closer “Shoe Suede Blues” is more your speed?

The whole thing is pretty incredible for such a young group of musicians. They’re the real deal. And my fingers are crossed that we don’t have to wait so long for their next release like this one. It’s an album that made me smile while I listened. That takes some doin’.

Motherhood are probably playing a boatload of shows in the next little while, most importantly being their album release THIS EVENING (June 14th) and the Shifty Bits Circus, July 25th through 28th at the Capital Complex in Fredericton. The album is available through Bandcamp or on vinyl at Backstreet Records or at shows, or if you know a band member? See them. Please. Just, like, go already!

- Mike Nason

Comments are closed.