Music We Love: Mother Tongues New EP

Here’s some good news for shoegaze and psych fans: Mother Tongues are preparing to drop their first record, and we’ve got a first listen for you. The self-titled six track EP is a reflection of two years of hard work amidst dozens of live shows (both in- and out-of-state) and lineup changes.

“A ‘mother tongue’ is your native language, the language you get exposed to from birth,” vocalist/guitarist Tyler Spears explains. “These six songs are sort of the birth story of the band.”

Recorded at Dojo Baby Records by tracking wizard Brack Cantrell, Mother Tongues is almost completely true to the band’s live sound. The only exception is that the effects on Spears’ voice play a little cleaner on this record, making it easier for the listener to parse his lyrics. But Mother Tongues have frequently stressed that instrumentation is the meat of their work—“It’s always the music first,” guitarist Chris Moline says.

One of the band’s signature gifts is an ability to blend astute compositional technique and layer upon layer of effect without muddying the overall product. That gift shines throughout the record, especially on “All Around,” which culminates in a trippy, dreamy avalanche of sonorous guitar and dripping vocals. Songs like “Glow,” with its bright melodies and gritty bass line, betray Mother Tongues’ fondness for shoegaze pioneers My Bloody Valentine. But Mother Tongues never goes full-on wall of sound, preferring instead a slightly cleaner and more rooted dynamic. The EP also manages to be pretty rangy despite being rather short—“Jam of the Tongues” is a total earworm from the get-go (good luck trying to get that hook out of your head once you’ve heard it) while “Lonely Sun” burns a little more slowly. And then there are “Loom” and “Drowse,” songs so weighted with psychedelic darkness that they threaten to crush the listener beneath their power.

Few debut records are this self-assured and keenly made. Moline describes the effort as “an accumulation of all the music each of us loves, coming into one album.” Although Tyler, bassist (and brother to Tyler) Garrett Spears, and Moline are the core members of the group, Jared Starcher began playing drums with the band about a year ago, replacing founding drummer Trent Webb—a close friend of the band who still comes to shows and, among other things, prints Mother Tongues’ t-shirts. Starcher’s influence has been clear, Garrett Spears says: “We got a lot heavier when Jared came in.” Given the quality of the project, it’s tough to believe that the band has only existed in its current state for twelve months.

The band has lots of things in the works. Although his efforts aren’t featured on this record, Ben Copeland joined the group on keyboard a couple of months ago. “It’s a pleasure to get to mirror things and add thickness, infrastructure,” Copeland says. (If you attend the band’s album release party, you’ll get to see the entire lineup in action.) Eventually the Mother Tongues EP will be pressed to vinyl. And the guys are already hinting that they’ll drop a new single sometime this summer, so keep an eye out.

Mother Tongues will release their EP this Saturday, May 27th, at Harvest House. Be sure to pick up a copy of the album, whether it be a CD or a custom translucent red cassette tape. The event kicks off at 4 PM with live painting and art, and also features performances by TeleMegaSounds, Palm Daze (Austin), The Bristol Hills (Louisiana), and The Rotten Mangos (Austin.) Until then, check out “Glow."

Photos by Ellie Alonzo
Header image design by Christopher Rodgers