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Only a Mother


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A quite unique band from Detroit and other southeast Michigan localities. Only A Mother existed from approximately 1987 to 1994, though Frank Pahl, the main songwriter and genius behind the group, continues his own solo work, which resembles in style the OaM sound, a sound best described as “avant garde noise-folk”.

Only a Mother used only acoustic instruments to create very strange songs, often with pop structures but with bizarre instrumentation and arrangements, extended techniques, strange time signatures and keys, and harmonic references to other ethnicities (Balkan, Middle Eastern, and Celtic especially) . The lyrics were often quite surreal as well, with subjects ranging from contortionists to talking bricks to Bill Hickok. One song even depicts a young boy making a misguided, dream-like correlation between his masturbation and the old alligators in New York City sewers myth.

Other artists somewhat resembling them are The Residents, Renaldo & the Loaf, the Art Bears, and more recently Charming Hostess and the Tin Hat Trio. Only A Mother worked with a variety of collaborators, including Eugene Chadbourne (they appear on his LSDC&W album, and he plays guest guitar and banjo on their first album, as well as sitting in on many live gigs) and the Shaking Ray Levis, but their core members were:

Frank Pahl - vocal, guitar, prepared mandolin, balalaika, euphonium, whistling
Bobbi Benson - upright bass, trumpet, vocals
Marko Novachcoff - cello, various reeds
Mary Richards - violin, mandolin, vocals
Doug Gourlay - percussion


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  • Kirowatt

    Damn, I really love weird folk like this. Feral Chickens is wonderful.

    21 Jul 2012 Reply
  • moblash

    So, so brilliant. The nights I spent seeing these guys in various unlikely venues from Detroit to Wyandotte will live forever in my memory...

    1 Dec 2011 Reply
  • iconan

    only a mother - 1987 - ridding white alligators - Questo Lps è stato come un faro di creatività musicale e fantasia . -.-.-.-.-.-. om hari om .....

    12 Sep 2011 Reply
  • SpaceLoneliness

    feral chickens is totally wacky and wonderful. great rekkerd.

    4 Jul 2011 Reply
  • yorammorad

    how the hell can I get their stuff??? I got the Feral Chickens from here which is great (thanks for sharing by the way) but there's nothing about them whatsoever anywhere.

    18 Jun 2011 Reply
  • min-thom

    they haven`t lost their sense of humor. one of the funniest bands ever. "Riding white alligators" is a masterpiece, but love them all.

    7 Nov 2010 Reply
  • The_Red_Agent

    The Eyesore v/a has one of the greatest collection of artists ever.

    12 Oct 2009 Reply
  • sheps999

    Feral Chickens in FLAC: Feral Chikens in FLAC:

    25 Jul 2009 Reply
  • insomniacme

    Not "crazy". Hmm

    12 Jun 2009 Reply
  • feedyourmind-

    I can't find this anywhere, if someone could share anything from them, I would be very grateful.

    1 Jun 2009 Reply
  • Grindfucked

    well, now this is a good find, that's for sure.

    14 May 2009 Reply
  • AyaIwa

    Great band!

    19 Mar 2008 Reply
  • schizodanny

    Great band indeed. Found them in Lucia Pamela's similar artists list. Yet another reason to love the Mother.

    2 Dec 2007 Reply
  • Dimitri-9

    This is music what i'd like to create if i'd were a musician.

    10 Oct 2007 Reply

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