Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
I recently underwent quite a nice thrill; one related to music, of course, and derived from my introduction to the duo from Houston, Texas and working under the name FOSTERMOTHER.
Toward the end of January, FOSTERMOTHER digitally released a seven-song, self-titled album that appears to be the band’s début. I say “band”, but truth is, FOSTERMOTHER originally was a sole multi-instrumentalist, Travis Weatherred. What Travis accomplished in the recorded contents of this eponymous album is beyond merely impressive: playing guitar, bass, and drums, plus doing the vocals all himself on six of the seven songs… with nothing programmed. It does not end there, as he also recorded and mixed the record.
In late 2019, he was joined by collaborator and bass / mellotron player, Stephen Griffin, who brought along what would become the song “Fathoms” with him. What these two have crafted here for their first time in the spotlight is nothing short of magnificent. Recently, the duo of FOSTERMOTHER became a trio with the addition of drummer Justin Mayo for the band’s live actions.
This remarkably potent blend of fuzzy desert rock with heady, psych-tinged enhancing, subtle shoegaze seasoning, and a large amount of alternative / indie rock, is a downright infectious affair. The duo manages to avoid many of the pitfalls that await an up and coming act, doing so by trailblazing their own path forward. Capitalizing on their many strengths, there is an underlying confidence to this music, yet nothing too aggressive in any conflicting way.
Instead, after a brief intro and build-up, we get the headstrong charge of the solid rock starter, “Destroyers“. With a quick glide that soon drops a repetitious hook, we soar in this heading for the duration. I found myself getting major good vibes from this combination of righteous audio and cleanly polished, nearly perfect melodic vocals. The music is quite hypnotically alluring and soothing, a much fuzzier take on the stylistic type of output from Valley Of The Sun or Deville.
It is atmospheric audio, airy and heady; delivered in a melodic flow grounded by immense groove. Within this lysergic soup of sweltering audio emissions are steamy numbers like “Give“, or the slow cooking simmer of “Fathoms“. The latter begins with an off-in-the-distance bluesy passage, a brief intro that quickly melts away, as an affluent churn of instrumentation takes hold.
Some of the finer prime movers powered up and sent showering down upon the listener here include “Dark Sun” and “Lie In Wait“. There is something quite earworm-y about “Dark Sun“, a cut with a hook that sinks in deep right at the start and takes you for a ride on its rolling rhythms. It isn’t a frantic or hurried ride in any way whatsoever, no. This is a guided flight into a heavy and hazy absence of light.
The pair of compositions set to eventually end this album, “Blood On The Wall” and “In The Shadow“, provide some of the finest moments of this entire offering. The first of the two is unquestionably one of the more harder, rock-driven tunes, at least in the music of the song itself. Charged with electro-rhythmic energies, there are layers of activity at play, things occurring in there that someone might not realize. Delivered via varied intensity for most the duration of this cut, there is a brief breather brought about by a break mid-way, where things get really interesting until the song ceases.
For me, one of this record’s highest points is reached within the melodic depths of the closing number, “In The Shadow“. This is a sauntering song to be sure, ambling along in melancholia, yet keeping things simple in words and what you hear. The repetitious choruses of “In the shadow… of darkness” seem to drive that frightful point home with rather stark realization. It is not a hope-inspiring song at all, but let the take away be something along the lines of “…to appreciate the highs, at times we must wallow in the lows”.
FOSTERMOTHER renders a most remarkable work of auditory artistry right from their first at-bat. This is the type and quality of an album that some bands strive for years to create, yet don’t. Factor in other aspects, for instance, this is pretty much one man’s fevered dream fantasy made a manifest reality. Don’t be underwhelming about it either, it is a-OK to get animated about a musician, an album, a band, or what have you, when you are captivated by such.
This self-titled startup has been exactly such for me recently, a listening event that has resonated and recirculated. Striking and memorable, this first from FOSTERMOTHER is not one you should allow to slip from your grasp or go unchecked.
The album is available to stream in this review or you can head to their Bandcamp page for further streaming or purchase [HERE]. As of Friday, March 13th, the CD format of this release is now available.
For Fans Of: Queens Of The Stone Age, Valley Of The Sun