Bandcamp of the Day: Make Space by Mother Neff

My gravitational pull toward Americana and roots music has only grown stronger now that I’m officially a Southern man and live in Tennessee. I was always an Americana fan, but there’s something about being so close to the birthplace of country music (Bristol, Tennessee) that has made me dive into these genres even deeper. If you add touches of psychedelia and a jam-band feel to it, then I’m just about in cosmic honky-tonk heaven.

This is what drew me toward a new album called Make Space by the Austin, Texas-based band Mother Neff. Mother Neff is a four-piece psychedelic roots band that “explores the cosmic corners where Southern soul, Texas guitars, and Louisiana rhythms can create a little stardust to sprinkle over your beautiful hearts.” They invite us on Bandcamp to join us out there in those cosmic corners of the world, and they sure as hell didn’t have to tell me twice.

Mother Neff’s debut album, Make Space, was released in February 2023, and it sounds along the lines of another band I covered here recently called The Whags. Make Space isn’t quite as funky as The Whags’ album, but it provides more than enough of that soothing rootsy psychedelic guitar tone and honky-tonk harmonies that I love.

The songwriting is deeply melodic but has plenty of improvisation that should solidify Mother Neff’s jam-band street cred. They say much of the sound is influenced by Dr. John’s Gris Gris album, The Band, and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. 

“Original Sin” and “Ashes” off Make Space align more with Southern Rock standards. But it’s when we get to songs like “Supernatural” and “Questions” that we veer into psychedelic territory. You may also notice hints here and there of the Cajun and Tulsa Sound of the great American guitarist and songwriter J.J. Cale.

The members of Mother Neff all have interesting musical experiences and backstories, according to some info you can read here. Tobin Scroggins (vocals and guitar) grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, but eventually found his way to Texas. Pete Stiles (guitar) also ended up in Austin after years as a musician at Bloodshot Records. Grae Baker (bass, keyboards, and vocals) and Zachary LeBlanc (drums) also came to Austin from other Southern outposts, bringing their love of funk, jazz, and even formal musical training to the mix.

You can say Mother Neff is a gang of musical journeymen who have gathered in the musical utopia of Austin to make the type of stuff they love. Make Space is a beautiful record that’ll appeal to fans of roots music, jam bands, and that intersection between country and psych that we call cosmic country. Join them for the ride!

Support Mother Neff by finding them on Bandcamp, their official website, or Facebook.

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