A&E » Arts

Mirroring each other’s rich, theatrical sound

Double playbill with Vancouver’s Mother Mother and Montreal’s Patrick Watson



Who: Mother Mother/Patrick Watson

When: Saturday, Dec. 8

Where: Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC)

An evening of drama and theatrics awaits Whistler. And no, there are no circus fire-eaters, nor a presentation of Sam Sheppard’s Buried Child, although sometimes Mother Mother’s satirical lyrics make it feel a little bit like the theatre of the absurd, and Patrick Watson’s epic soundscapes seem like a MGM feature film soundtrack.

The two highly original bands are coming for a one-night-only showstopper of a concert on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Garibaldi Lift Company.

“Patrick’s music is just beautiful,” said Ryan Guldemond, guitarist and vocalist for the Vancouver band Mother Mother. “It’s really rich and alive and theatrical. He has a real soundtrack aspect to it, and his voice… It’s all there.”

Often people admire in others what is also reflected in themselves.

The music of Mother Mother embraces a wide range of genres, including pop, punk, folk, bluegrass and anything else they effortlessly pull from their guitar cases and classically trained jazz backgrounds. All sounds are united in the seamless three-part vocal harmonies Guldemond, his sister Molly and Debra-Jean Creelman produce. Cheeky lyrics teeter between one part comedy hour and one part film noir as songs theatrically comment on society. An example is the title track from their newest album, Touch Up , which pokes fun at the ridiculousness of fabricated commercial beauty.

“I really l like writing about the human conditional stuff,” Guldemond said. “I dig the people thing and the hilarity in our lives and the sad hilarity in that.”

Touch Up is the re-release of their debut album. They performed tracks from it at their last Whistler show two years ago, when they were just called “Mother”.

Now they are twice the name they were after signing on with Last Gang and doing countless tours throughout Canada and the U.S.

“I don’t feel like anything is happening too fast,” Guldemond said. “A lot of hard work goes into things, and it’s often hurry up and wait… It doesn’t feel like we are being hit over the head with success. We are still slogging it out in a big way on the road.”

Montreal’s Patrick Watson is also hitting the highway these days, promoting his album, Close to Paradise , which won Best Canadian Album at the 2007 Polaris Prize Awards — not too shabby when you consider Watson and his bandmates, Robbie Kuster, Simon Angell and Mishka Stein, were keeping company with Arcade Fire and Feist in their category.

His album was ranked No. 4 on the Top 200 albums in Canada, falling behind Nelly Furtado and The Shins. And a song from the album, The Great Escape, was used on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

Watson also scored a Best New Artist nomination at the 2007 Juno Awards and kept stage company with James Brown, Philip Glass, Feist and Steve Reichs.

Awards and critiques are heralding Patrick Watson for his orchestra feel as the pop-rock band creates a surreal yet comprehensible soundscape that is beautiful and soulful.

He received a 2007 Genie nomination for a song composed for La Belle Bete Quebecois film with actress Caroline Dhavernas.

Watson’s music has been visually inspired and cinematic from the start. He released Waterproof9 early on in his career. The project was meant to accompany the underwater photography of Brigitte Henry. Since then, Watson’s performances have rarely been without wild projections and optical illusions.

Both Mother Mother and Patrick Watson push the boundaries of reality with their “rich and alive and theatrical” sounds.