Momma, Hotline TNT
Due to Vermont’s high vaccination rate and significantly declining local hospitalization rates we will no longer be requiring proof of vaccination or a negative PCR result for events at Higher Ground, unless requested by the artist. This change will take effect on April 1st and will apply to performances at both the Ballroom and the Showcase Lounge.Please continue to watch for communications on any protocol changes for upcoming performances.
Advance, $25 | Day of Show, $30
On her 2018 debut album Lush, seventeen-year-old Lindsey Jordan sang “I’m in full control / I’m not lost / Even when it’s love / Even when it’s not”. Her natural ability to be many things at once resonated with a lot of people. The contradiction of confidence and vulnerability, power and delicacy, had the impact of a wrecking ball when put to tape. It was an impressive and unequivocal career-making moment for Jordan.
On Valentine, her sophomore album out November 5th on Matador, Lindsey solidifies and defines this trajectory in a blaze of glory. In 10 songs, written over 2019-2020 by Jordan alone, we are taken on an adrenalizing odyssey of genuine originality in an era in which “indie” music has been reduced to gentle, homogenous pop composed mostly by ghost writers. Made with careful precision, Valentine shows an artist who has chosen to take her time. The reference points are broad and psychically stirring, while the lyrics build masterfully on the foundation set by Jordan’s first record to deliver a deeper understanding of heartbreak.
On “Ben Franklin”, the second single of the album, Jordan sings “Moved on, but nothing feels true / Sometimes I hate her just for not being you / Post rehab I’ve been feeling so small / I miss your attention, I wish I could call”. It’s here that she mourns a lost love, conceding the true nature of a fleeting romantic tie-up and ultimately, referencing a stay in a recovery facility in Arizona. This 45-day interlude followed issues stemming from a young life colliding with sudden fame and success. Since she was not allowed to bring her instruments or recording equipment, Jordan began tabulating the new album arrangements on paper solely out of memory and imagination. It was after this choice to take radical action that Valentine really took its unique shape.
Jordan took her newfound sense of clarity and calm to Durham, North Carolina, along with the bones of a new album. Here she worked with Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Waxahatchee). For all the album’s vastness and gravity, it was in this small home studio that Jordan and Cook chipped away over the winter of early 2021 at co-producing a dynamic collection of genre-melding new songs, finishing it triumphantly in the spring. They were assisted by longtime bandmates Ray Brown and Alex Bass, as well as engineer Alex Farrar, with a live string section added later at Spacebomb Studios in Richmond.
Leaning more heavily into samples and synthesizers, the album hinges on a handful of remarkably untraditional pop songs. The first few seconds of opener and title track ‘Valentine’ see whispered voice and eerie sci-fi synth erupt into a stadium-sized, endorphin-rush of a chorus that is an overwhelming statement of intent. “Ben Franklin”, “Forever (Sailing)” and “Madonna” take imaginative routes to the highest peaks of catchiness. Jordan has always sung with a depth of intensity and conviction, and the climactic pop moments on Valentine are delivered with such a tenet and a darkness and a beauty that’s noisy and guttural, taking on the singularity that usually comes from a veteran artist.
As captivating as the synth-driven songs are, it’s the more delicate moments like “Light Blue”, “c.et. al.” and “Mia” that distill the albums range and depth. “Baby blue, I’m so behind / Can’t make sense of the faces in and out of my life / Whirling above our daily routines / Both buried in problems, baby, honestly” Jordan sings on “c. et. al.” with a devastating certainty. These more ethereal, dextrously finger-picked folk songs peppered in throughout the album are nuanced in their vocal delivery and confident in their intricate arrangement. They come in like a breath of air, a moment to let the mind wander, but quickly drown the listener in their melodic alchemy and lyrical punch.
The album is rounded out radiantly by guitar-driven rock songs like “Automate”, “Glory” and “Headlock”. Reminiscent of Lush but with a marked tonal shift, Jordan again shows her prowess as a guitar player with chorus-y leads and rhythmic, wall-of-sound riffs. “Headlock” highlights this pivot with high-pitched dissonance and celestially affected lead parts – “Can’t go out I’m tethered to / Another world where we’re together / Are you lost in it too?”, she sings with grit and fatigue, building so poignantly on her sturdy foundation of out-and-out melancholy. On Valentine, we are taken 100 miles deeper into the world Jordan created with Lush, led through passageways and around dark corners, landing somewhere we never dreamed existed.
Today, in the wake of recording Valentine, Jordan is focused on trying to continue healing without slowing down. The album comes in the midst of so much growth, in the fertile soil of a harrowing bottom-out. On the heels of life-altering success, a painful breakup and 6 weeks in treatment, Jordan appears vibrant and sharp. “Mia, don’t cry / I love you forever / But I gotta grow up now / No I can’t keep holding onto you anymore” she sings on the album closer “Mia”. She sings softly but her voice cuts through like a hacksaw. The song is lamenting a lost love, saying a somber goodbye, and it closes the door on a bitter cold season for Jordan. Leaving room for a long and storied path, Valentine is somehow a jolt and a lovebuzz all at once.
– Katie Crutchfield
Following Momma’s beloved 2020 LP Two of Me, which introduced the world to the symbiotic writing style and profound creative intuition of founders Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten, the band’s third studio album Household Name reveals an exciting new chapter marked by both personal and artistic growth. Now based in Brooklyn, New York, after relocating from hometown Los Angeles, the duo upgraded from GarageBand and took their time writing and recording in a proper studio alongside multi-instrumentalist/producer Aron Kobayashi Ritch and drummer Zach CapittiFenton. The resulting album, mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Emily Lazar, is a tightly-stitched collection that is magnetic and dynamic, and also marks their debut for Polyvinyl Record Co./Lucky Number—who signed Momma in the midst of the pandemic before the band members had even finished college. In chasing their idols and embracing personal storytelling, the band has skillfully carved out their own path. Household Name showcases an unfettered vulnerability elevated by serious alt-rock bombast, and is an album that tells the world: This is Momma.
Across the 12 songs, Weingarten and Friedman, who met and formed Momma in high school, cull lyrical inspiration from their own lives for the first time–a contrast with the conceptual fiction of Two of Me. “I went through a lot of changes as we were writing and demoing this record. The biggest was that I was going through a really messy breakup, which was motivation to make this record the best it could be. I really felt like I had something to prove,” Weingarten says. “I wanted to write about heartbreak, which isn’t something we normally focus on in our lyrics. Etta and I ended up writing several songs on our own because we were having two really different experiences during this time. It’s the first record where we each have three songs that we sing solo on.” Friedman adds, “After making Two of Me, I think this album couldn’t help but to get personal. This was the first time all of us worked together throughout the entireprocess of demoing, recording, etc. We’ve never had the luxury to work this intimately together for such a prolonged amount of time.”
Bygone heroes also helped inspire a lyrical theme throughout Household Name: the rise and fall of the rock star, and the tropes and tribulations that come with that arc. The theme allowed the group to celebrate (and, in some cases, directly reference) icons like Nirvana, Pavement, Smashing Pumpkins, Veruca Salt, and the Breeders’ Kim Deal, while weaving in their own perspective and experiences. “It became a little game like, ‘Oh this is the ‘Cannonball’ moment or the ‘Drain You’ moment,’” Weingarten recalls of the writing process. “Having that, because we’re all nerds, gave us motivation to keep writing different kinds of songs, and also created focus so that we’re not just presenting scattered ideas. Our guitar chords aren’t classic grunge chords; as Momma, we have our own style.”
“Lucky,” one of the album’s standouts, was written when Friedman was across the country from their partner, and draws inspiration from Liz Phair’s “Nashville.” “She so perfectly put into words how mundane life can feel the most blissful when the person you love is around,” Friedman remembers. “I think harping on that thought, and missing my partner so much, is what helped write ‘Lucky.’ I can be lazy, boring, brushing my teeth, naked, half awake, and still get butterflies from them. I just felt like a real winner to be in love with my best friend.” Meanwhile, “Motorbike,” sung by Weingarten, expresses a different, illusionary side of young love. “I was hung up on this guy who I thought was super cool,” Weingarten recalls. “The song ended up being purely fantasy – I was writing about all of these scenarios that didn’t actually happen, because this guy really wasn’t giving me the time of day. But it all felt real in my head – once you write out the lyrics, rewrite them, demo, and redemo a song, you forget that these weren’t real experiences. It becomes a part of you.”
Although Household Name was mostly inspired by the musicians’ own lives, much of the album embraces a satiric sensibility with its tongue-in-cheek rock culture references. “No Stage” is told from the point-of-view of a jaded rock star who desperately wants to make it big (“If I’m famous for the night / I’ll be lonely all my life”), and the triumphant highlight “Rockstar” is about a reverent fascination with Tenacious D’s over-the-top, comedic preoccupation with being ‘The Best Rock Band of All Time.’ Co-written with producer Kobayashi Ritch (whose indelible guitar riff demos served as the song’s foundation), “Speeding 72″ details a fast burning romance between two kids who meet at a show and then go for a ride, referencing Pavement’s “Gold Soundz” with nostalgic admiration.
After collaborating on every aspect of the songs—from writing to arrangements—Momma recorded Household Name at Studio G in Brooklyn and Kobayashi Ritch’s home studio in Los Angeles. Kobayashi Ritch took on the roles of producer and mixer—like Flood on Smashing Pumpkins’ seminal Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness—aiming to embrace all the band’s ‘90s influences while also bringing the sonics forward with a contemporary freshness. “Artists like Nirvana and Liz Phair were obviously huge influences for this record, particularly in the songwriting, but I drew just as much inspiration from artists like Frou Frou, Linkin Park, Pinback, and Garbage. That era of popular music was really inspiring to me because those artists celebrated the production instead of hiding it away, and it made the music feel energetic and daring,” he explains. “I wanted to bring that mentality to Momma, and make this album feel intentional and complete. I also wanted to make sure we weren’t just making a throwback record. While our influences are definitely noticeable, I think the different sounds and vibes and songwriting help it read as something new and exciting that only Momma could make.”
Household Name perfects a balance of heavy riffs, deep emotions, inviting sonic production, and a lighthearted, wry sense of humor, creating a singular lane for Momma in today’s world of alt rock. The album introduces a thrilling new era of the band to not only listeners, but also to the members themselves. “There have been so many times where I have begun to write words to a tune, just out of pure emotion from something I experienced, and I don’t actually realize how I feel about the situation until I listen back to the lyrics after a few days,” Friedman notes. “So, when an artist gets personal in their music, it seems to me that the listeners and the artist are having the same experience at once, which is a better understanding of the writer as a whole. That’s what I want these songs to give to the listener: a true introduction to all sides of Momma.”
Hotline TNT is the most 90s band of the 21st century so far. It is a pop music group of no certain allegiance or denomination. The songs are for all ages, but many fans are forced to watch the band behind their parents’ backs. Their records are all self-released but easy to find; many people who come across the 7″s immediately turn them into weapons.