There’s a telling lyric in Momma’s remarkable new song “Speeding 72” that says a lot about the members of the New York-by-way-of-Los Angeles quartet: “Meet up on a Sunday, filling the ashtray / Nothing get in our way, always in a new place / You can catch us listening to ‘Gold Soundz’.”
This reference to a road trip with a soundtrack to a 1994 Pavement song would seem pretty on the mark of a bunch of shriveled old indie heads, especially with the beloved Stephen Malkmus-led outfit on the verge. to tour this year for the first time since 2012. But for a group of musicians like Allegra Weingarten and Etta Friedman of Momma, who were wearing diapers when Pavement first split in 1999, it has a much deeper meaning. .
“Allegra and I listened to Pavement so much when we were teenagers,” says Friedman SPIN on Zoom. “I feel like that was one of our biggest inspirations lyrically and visually.” Indeed, Friedman, Weingarten and producer/bassist Aron Kobayashi Ritch spent a lot of money buying tickets for Pavement’s reunion shows this fall, but Momma’s own fall touring schedule (at iconic clubs such as the Williamsburg Music Hall in New York and The Echo in Los Angeles) incompatible with the itinerary.
And while it will be disappointing not to hear “Gold Soundz” live and in the flesh, it’s surely a good problem to have for Momma, who is on the rise thanks to a recent passing opening for a fellow buzz group Wet Leg and the strong response to recent singles “Medicine” and “Rockstar” from their upcoming album, household name. Produced by Kobayashi Ritch, the project arrives July 1 on Polyvinyl/Lucky Number Music and conjures up a seductive and refreshing sound much like Hayley Williams taking on Pinback with distortion pedals.
Weingarten and Friedman met and bonded musically in high school in the mid-2010s in Calabasas, Calif., teaching themselves to play instruments while obsessively listening to their favorite bands. Their enthusiasm for sharing new musical discoveries even shines through on Zoom, as they spontaneously recount their recent obsessions with beabadoobee, The Dandy Warhols, The Damned and Bombay Bicycle Club. “I think we only had one sleepover before we picked up our guitars and started writing songs,” Weingarten laughs. “Then we did that for the next two years.”
“Our first songs would start with Allegra’s verse, or her experience with the subject. The second half would be my verse and my take, and then we’d come together on a chorus,” observes Friedman. contact and in tune with each other that, although we still have very different life experiences, we are more symbiotic with each other, where everything can play out and have its place. It’s not as separate in a song.
The duo released two previous albums on smaller independent labels in 2018 and 2020, but household name is a giant leap full of deliciously heavy Drop-D riffs, irresistible melodies, winks and nods to life in a band (i.e. drummers who insist on n listen to that “Hummer” by Smashing Pumpkins in the van) and Weingarten and Friedman’s harmonious vocal harmonies.
It’s often hard to tell who’s singing what or even whether the spiky riffs are played on guitar or bass, a stylistic curiosity inspired by the instrumental interplay of Pinback’s Rob Crow and Zach Smith. “The way Etta and I like to write guitar parts is such that you can’t tell when a person is going from chords to lead,” Weingarten explains. “We listened to a lot of Pinback when we were making this record”, says Kobayashi Ritch. “We even stuck foam under the guitars to mimic the sounds of those records.”
Indeed, Kobayashi Ritch’s creative production touches speak to the foresight that went into writing and arranging the material with the finished product in mind, such as mixing real drums and breakbeat samples. on “Brave” and the acoustic verse/fuzzy chorus structure of “Rockstar” (“The classic ’90s movement,” admits Kobayashi Ritch). “That’s really how we’ve always wanted to sound and present ourselves,” enthuses Friedman. “I can’t wait to see what happens once everyone can hear it.”