A few weeks back, Impose Magazine had the good fortune of premiering “Moon Tomb,” the lead single off of powerhouse soul band Vinegar Mother‘s debut album, PHASES. The LP saw release last week and to celebrate, we had the band break it down for us track by track.
Check out Vinegar Mother detailing the music and lyrics on PHASES below and click through the Bandcamp player to buy your copy.
Lyrically: This title was originally thought of by our keyboardist Itamar Gov-Ari before the song was even written. Upon hearing it, it definitely sparked an idea in my head. I enjoy writing about love, but I also like writing about my inner world, including downfalls in my personality. This song is about my love for solitude, that sometimes feels like an obsession. Once the moon comes up, I lock myself away. Others go out, and I prefer to stay in. I look at the moon every night with a silent kinship, knowing we’ll be staying put, but still pushing and pulling energy throughout the world.
Musically: Musically this song was an amalgamation of our influences. We drew from R&B influence on a back beat based verse and chorus and catapulted into psychedelic territory in the bridge in order to truly encapsulate the meaning of the lyrics and the song. We were very conscious of how we wanted the bridge to sound when recording and meticulously planned our use of synth pads, reverb, and reversed vocals
Lyrically: An old man tried to kiss me at Tompkins Square Park in New York City. When I pushed him away he spat on me, all over my shirt and face. After getting to a safe spot, I took my notebook out and wrote this poem that eventually made its way into the melody of ‘King.’ Power is the cause of so much mental strife and trauma for everyone. You are not more powerful than others because you’re a man. You’re not more powerful than others because you’re rich, or pretty, or college educated; these are just things that we as a culture have made into our truth. So the song is a message to men, and anyone who’s ever wounded someone’s heart or body due to their illusion of power.
Musically: Originating in a very laid back trio writing session/rehearsal, this song was created at a time when members of the band were listening to a lot of the duo “Mehliana”. We Ended up translating the idea of the limitation of playing left hand synth bass into a full band by adjusting the chorus into a bass line that floats between half time and normal time and drums that float between normal time and double time. The song explodes by the end of the bridge and last chorus, but tames itself at the outro just in time in order to transition into Nexus.
Lyrically: Nexus is about a complex relationship between a child and parent, including the complications that come with holding close our independence, authority, respect and growth in such an intimate relationship. But the chorus makes sure to address that sometimes we say things we don’t mean, but deep down we know in our souls that the love we have for each other is deep and unwavering. The repetition of ‘in my soul’ is to remind myself and the listener to look within to find the truth and love when you feel anger and resentment.
Musically: Sonically and structurally this song is a juxtaposition of an experimental verse based on a broken beat and a synth arpeggiator pallet and a chorus that borrows influence from 60’s doo-wop and pop music. The end of the song’s introduction of B3 organ the backing vocals provide the bed for Julia to soar over and truly engrave the lyrics on to the song. Fun fact, this song gets its title and some of its spacey aesthetic from Itamar and Jason’s epic Starcraft battles… The working title of it was Protoss but we decided Nexus was a more fitting name.
Lyrically: Oh-So-Typical ex boyfriend song! Wahhh! He kept coming back into my damn head!! Get outta there!! New York City is small and I felt like I saw him around every corner! Waahhh! WOE IS ME!!!
Musically: We had used odd meter time signatures in our Debut EP “The Sunny Seat” and while we don’t intentionally try to have one in each release, this one happened naturally. The choruses and bridge both have two bars of 7/4 consecutively which don’t truly feel odd. This was one of the first songs in our newer direction after our EP was finished recording and we had a blast writing it together. While recording it we found a Rhodes sound that was very reminiscent of an 80’s DX7 patch, but still retained the growl of a real electric piano. This was a nice compromise of the analog sound we love but also the spacey theme we go for on this song and album as a whole.
Lyrically: Palm Sweat is about a dilemma I had with commitment. I used to be a very guarded lady. I loved the rush of getting to know someone, but would quickly get bored. I think a lot of it had to do with me not checking my ego, and just wanting everyone to know who I was. So I jumped from man to man thinking the next one would be different. I got myself into quite the predicament with the constant heartbreak. Most of the time you just gotta look within to solve the problem, ya know?
Musically: Palm Sweat was another song that came about from a trio writing session when the band had just finished recording our debut EP. The big idea of the song was to mostly jump around chords in space of thirds, and introduce borrowed chords from other keys during the chorus and bridge in order to create contrast. We also consciously broke up the chorus with some hits that line up with the vocal although the chorus can still break into a groove as demonstrated in the second chorus. Proximity started out as a simple interlude idea when we all agreed we wanted something that sounded like it but couldn’t quite vocalize what it would be. It was just one of those moments that the music spoke for us when our words couldn’t.
Lyrically: One time we got heckled when performing this song live. I said “This song is called Forget You.” and a guy in the audience yelled “I ALREADY DID!!!.” That was a really fun time for us. Anyway, this song isn’t actually about forgetting a person, but rather forgetting a depressive mindset. It’s really a therapeutic song for me, especially when I feel myself seeping back into a dangerous mental state. It seemed easier for me to confront something as serious as depression by personifying it. When you listen to this song, just think about breaking free from whatever weakens you.
Musically: This was a song that started out as something completely different than what we put on the album. We had written the verse and chorus and ended up completely discarding the chorus and re-harmonizing it with a brand new chord progression, which breathed new life into the song. The bridge is a section for us when we often stretch out live. While recording it we were very into Pink Floyd, specifically Rick Wright’s synth sounds and tried to emulate that in the synth solo while still retaining Itamar’s natural tendencies and sensibilities.
Lyrically: This song is about the government, and the shameful corruption that’s been revealed through so many politicians. It’s definitely a more aggressive song than some we’ve written. But with the way we collaborate, I feel like it was anger we all needed to release in the moment.
Musically: Our previous guitarist Paulie turned the feedback knob of his delay pedal all the way up one time at the end of band practice and thank god Jason didn’t let him turn it back down before playing a beat behind it… As a result of a happy accident, this song was born. It’s sonically the heaviest song we have written with extremely heavy distortion, buzzy synths and distorted piano. It’s often a crowd favorite and has a life of it’s own as we often extend the end into an atmospheric space jam.
Lyrically: I wrote this song in my room after a big fight with a family member. It’s about the way I projected a lot of my depression onto friends and family in forms of anger. I would wallow alone and wait for it to just pass. This song, like Nexus, ends with a mantra of “you’ll be lighter soon.” Even when I felt as low as I did, I wrote songs and mantras to help myself out of the ugly personas that would take over in the heat of many moments. This song may be the most important one to me.
Musically: A demo that Julia recorded in her room was the spark that ignited this song. We spiced up the song with new chords and a bridge, but had to strike a fine balance of adding to the piece but not overcomplicating it as the original version held so much beauty and raw emotion to it. The purpose of the arrangement is to accent the source material and we straddled a fine line, doing our best to use synthesizer LFO’s, delay feedback and reversed reverberated vocals in order to evoke emotion.
Lyrically: As we move into adulthood you start to lose a lot of friends you thought you’d have forever. It definitely makes you feel alone. Whether it’s a big dramatic break, or just a natural fade, you have to learn to let go and deal with the fact that life is ever changing.
Musically: In terms of structure, harmony, and sound pallet this is the song that we all agree is the simplest but also gets the point across. Itamar brought in a chord progression to a rehearsal and we very intuitively wrote the chorus and bridge within a matter of about an hour. We wanted to write an R&B influenced tune but to keep it simple and we feel like we did that with this song. The most complex section of this song is the bridge and it’s previewed in the beginning after the transition from Tired Tongue.
Lyrically: I grew up in a very spiritual household, and to this day hold that upbringing close to my heart. Saint Cecilia is the patroness of music, composition, and writing. I feel like she always walks life’s path with me, especially when performing and writing. I wear jewelry in memory of her as well as have tattoos mentioning her as well. She’s a big part of my life, and so is this song. It’s an ode to her and her badass story.
Musically: Rhythmically, this song was an adventure for us. We experimented with 12/8 feel which was something we hadn’t done before that point. The chord progression of the chorus is so amorphous with it’s key changes and chromaticism but still ends itself well to Julia’s blues inspired vocal melody. In the bridge we had a blast layering vocals in the studio and arranging the section to sound just right. Each member really pushed themselves on this song and it was a stepping stone for us musically. It was a lot of fun for us to play outside of our comfort zone.