Forming in 2009 Mama Would Be Proud is a band consisting of Christian Baraks (bass, keys, design, floor tom) Evan Douglas (vocals, effects), Ben Littlejohn (bass, effects) and Stephen Roberts (guitars, drums, vocals, keys, bass). Their recent effort Ways To Feel Awake is a cathartic lo-fi album that feels immediate and pure. The music tips its hat to art rock from the last decade but the most obvious bands would be Animal Collective and Bright Eyes, less so because of the music but more so because of the vocal style and delivery. The vocals are quite good, dynamic and passionate but I also heard a bit of Panda Bear and Connor Oberst in there at times.
The first track “I Can’t Compete” is an honest, sparse song revolving around a guitar, bass, some light atmospheric elements and an exceptional vocal performance that’s all covered in more than a healthy amount of reverb. The lyrics are pessimistic but it’s all about the delivery. Douglas sings “The ugly duck: they laughed at the quack 'til it shut him up there ain't enough love to lift up what we cannot touch So I'd get better, but I don't feel better.” The song starts to climax when Douglas repeats “I don't feel better” with more intensity as if he is revolting against the statement with existential angst.
The second half of the song is an ominous blend of atmospheric elements that emphasize the feelings of confusion and sadness. “Bonfire” is a party compared to the first track while “A Son's A Sun” takes advantage of layers of white noise, which add to the dynamic vocal performance.
“Can You Hear The Rain?” was a highlight as the music is in a constant state of flux. It’s disorienting, warm, beautiful and impactful. It starts off unassuming, relatively straight and then delves into chaos as he repeats the title of the song - fantastic. “They Tell Ya” was the first song I thought to myself that this is a bit like a Flaming Lips song sung by that dude Youth Lagoon. On top of that the song contains the perfect amount of melancholy, solace and emotion.
Ways To Feel Awake is a bit of grower. On my first listen the songs hid behind the lo-fi production and mounds of reverb but by my third or fourth spin I started to realize how powerful this record actually was. The songs are there and it seemed like the more you listened the more it revealed itself. The band has put a lot of time and effort into crafting music with an emotional resonance that is deep. Really good stuff - check it out.
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