The idea that getting rejected can ultimately be good for you is a cliche that rarely seems true in the moment because, well, rejection sucks. For Momma, the indie trio from New York to California, record labels adored them, took them out for drinks and praised their 2020 concept album two of me, and generally anoint them as The Next Big Thing. But not everyone who offers kind words is willing to back them up with a contract, and members of Mom found themselves facing a plurality of passes.
“When we got rejected by the labels, I remember us just saying, ‘All we can do is make the best record we can,'” Allegra Weingarten recalls.
And that’s exactly what they did. Their third album, household name, is easily the best of the bunch. Released July 1 via indie powerhouse Polyvinyl, the record sees Momma grapple with what it would mean to be famous today atop fuzzy, reverberating guitar chords that expand their grunge-tinged sound without softening its edges.
Consisting of Weingarten, 24, and Etta Friedman and Aron Kobayashi Ritch, 23, Momma first started out as Friedman’s project. Weingarten joined the band when the couple met in high school and their sound started to grow, first with the 2018s Intruder, and then Two of me. The release of household name coincides with the beginning of a new phase for the group. Friedman and Weingarten kept the band together while in college at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and Tulane University in New Orleans, respectively, and as we speak, it’s the day before graduation. Friedman diplomas. The couple are eager to make music their top priority now that they’ve both finished school.
“I think we’re also our own worst enemy and we’re really hard on ourselves and think, ‘Is this fucking flop? ‘” Friedman said. “But ultimately I’m living the dream life of what I wanted when I was 12 to make music, [and] people being receptive enough to want to come see it.
Inspired by albums like Nirvana It doesn’t matter, which brought its creators life-changing notoriety, the band uses much of household name to explore their own feelings about what success means and how it could change mom for better and for worse. The album opener “Rip Off” is their tongue-in-cheek rebuke of A&R failing to follow up on their initial interest (“You got my picture ’cause it’s hard to escape / They’ll know my name in every house across the States”). “Rockstar” pokes fun at their long-running search for a drummer and casts Momma as a house player at a club owned by David Lynch (“The barback is our singer / The last one left the band / A real fat drinker/He does karaoke Rocket Man”) “No Stage” juxtaposes public adoration with private loneliness in the same way so many great musical biopics do.
Besides recordings like It doesn’t matter and constant influences like The Breeders, Momma also drew on a particularly exuberant source of inspiration: the rock musical Tenacious D The pickaxe of destiny, in which Jack Black and Kyle Gass play underachieving musicians in search of a mystical guitar pick used by some of rock’s greatest. “It’s about going big and paying your rent at the same time. It’s just a relatable feat for an artist, I feel like,” Friedman laughs.
In some ways, household name is nostalgic for a kind of fame that no longer seems to exist. Mom is good at conjuring up a pre-internet world, or at least one outside of the 24/7 online anxiety vortex. Their latest album, two of me, been largely inspired by Yerington, a town of 3,000 people in western Nevada where Friedman has family. This kind of local waterhole imagery is also present on Momma’s new album, although they acknowledge that this era – and its diabolical, perhaps rock stardom – is far removed from their reality as up-and-coming musicians. in today’s record. industry.
“That rock ‘n roll mindset of ‘I don’t care’ doesn’t exist anymore,” says Weingarten. “You have to give af*ck. If it was 1991, I’d name the label I was talking about in “Rip Off,” but you can’t do that [now]. There’s a set of manners that you have to have as an independent musician, because there are so many people trying to do it.
Momma is one of the major indie rock figures of the year.
The moments on household name less preoccupied with the ups and downs of musical success are no less compelling, as each of the band’s principal songwriters share intimately with a new sense of sophistication. The fourth single “Lucky” finds Friedman contemplating the distance between them and their partner through the shifting topography that separates them. After spending time together in small town Connecticut, Friedman found himself in Los Angeles to reflect on their split across the country. (“My highway hills might reach east / If I’m driving in four days / I’ll be picking you up from the streets of my hometown / Buckle up, I’ll be there,” they sing.)
“Lucky” is one of many tracks from household name which reaches a new level of sonic ladder for the band, which is fitting since this is their first LP recorded in a full studio. “Brave,” with its tightly wound chords and booming hook, and propelling single “Speeding 72” fall into the same category. Sometimes it can take an album or two for young indie artists to really settle in and use their newfound resources, but thanks to Ritch’s deft production touch and Weingarten and Friedman’s songwriting acumen, Momma seems unambiguously ready for prime time.
With support slots for Snail Mail and a headlining tour later this year, Momma figures as one of the year’s indie rock lifters. It’s a good thing they got their “holy shit” moment away when they wrapped up a series of shows in the UK in mid-May.
“Etta and I had that moment when we landed in Manchester,” Weingarten says. “I was tripping because I was like, ‘Damn, those voice memos we sent each other in 2016, my freshman year at college, took us to fucking Manchester. That’s crazy.’ It’s really cute.