Motherhood European Tour Starts On September 7th

Photo by Vanessa Heins

New Brunswick post-punk/alternative/indie group Motherhood will tour Europe this year. The tour starts with a gig in Salzburg, Austria, on September 7th. You can check out the full schedule below. The band will promote Winded, their recently released full-length album.

Sept 7 – Salzburg, ATNarrenCastl
Sept 8 – Vienna, ATWaves Vienna
Sept 9 – Ljubljana, SIPrulček
Sept 10 – Kamanje, HR: Festival DOK
Sept 11 – Karlovac, HR: Mala Scena
Sept 14 – Brussels, BENanobrasserie de l’Ermitage
Sept 16 – Brighton, UKGreen Door Store (with Ducks Ltd)
Sept 18 – Ramsgate, UKRamsgate Music Hall
Sept 19 – London, UK: The Victoria (with Kiwi Jr)
Sept 22 – Hamburg, DEReeperbahn

Motherhood’s newest long-player, Winded, dives headlong into a narrative that explores the mundanity of the natural world as it mirrors human suffering. In their beloved home province of New Brunswick, with its dramatic vistas as a backdrop, the avant-punk trio spin a yarn about navigating a straight line through a storm — amid the driftwood and stones, under tireless ocean waves, and peering cliffside into a foggy void. Simply put, the songs on Winded are about “persevering—perhaps for no good reason.” But perseverance is no futile gesture, and Winded is as resolute as a “tightrope over a deep hole”.

Throughout Winded, lyricist Brydon Crain draws on his own history to weave metaphors about deciding to stay the course, despite the allure of losing control. The colourful songwriting pulls from the hillbilly regionalisms he comes by honestly, breathing new life into rural jokes and old wive’s tales; yet his delivery cops frequently from hip-hop, skillfully skirmishing with drummer Adam Sipkema’s relentless, complex rhythms. Throughout Winded, Penelope Stevens is the tie that binds, as her harmonies float like some bright ghost, and her bass and synths pulse and sting and wash.

“Fun” might be an altogether lacking descriptor for the album. Instead, Winded simply whips—just like the natural phenomenon it’s named after, gusting and unrelenting throughout its 28-minute runtime. “Dutifully moving in time suited me fine,” Crain drawls on opener “Crawly.” “Same as the breeze blows, same as the tune in my mind, same as the trees swaying beneath us.” This invisible force is blowing on the cliff’s peak in the unnervingly sweet “Shepherd”; it’s in the stomp and white-hot zoom of “Flood”; and it blasts through the ragged, breakneck punk of “Ripped Sheet,” pushing us toward the “homey little hole in the ground” our narrator has crawled into as refuge. 

Winded heralds a compositional departure for Motherhood—there is more sonic space, literally more air in these songs. “Musically,” Stevens says, “we decided to let air become its own force.” Take the riveting “Handbrake,” for example, which opens with delicate flute and gives way to colossal, sludgy guitar as the impending doom of a car crash; or “Trees,” which glides seamlessly from warped synth pulsations into near-silence, offering a last glimpse of the narrator, wandering the shoreline, searching for some semblance of meaning – “most of these rocks on the beach won’t get close to this cold, ode to your shook drowsy soul…”.

Winded was written in empty spaces, too—at the band’s local bar, The Cap in Fredericton, and the Charlotte Street Arts Centre—during the lockdowns of 2020. It was recorded at the analog studio MRC in scenic Memramcook, NB, known for the fierce winds that blow in off the Tantramar Marshes. Winded was produced by Kyle Cunjak and Motherhood themselves, and mixed by Greg Saunier, best known as the drummer for the legendary underground band Deerhoof. The album features additional vocals by Julie Aubé and Katrine Noël, two-thirds of Acadian space-folk trio Les Hay Babies.

Motherhood has been setting deep thoughts to rippin’ music since they were kids in the backwoods of the early aughts. With time and commitment come growth, and their tireless boundary-pushing has built a catalogue brimming with bold experimental work. Winded, for all its turbulence, marks an evolutionary bloom for the band, and proves that, although they continue to shapeshift and change directions as unpredictably as east coast weather, they remain unmistakably and unwaveringly Motherhood.

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