Thirty minutes after doors opened last Thursday night at the Doug Fir Lounge, and the downstairs was already half-full and approaching capacity quickly. Following critical praise of their most recent albums, Madeline Kenney and Soccer Mommy arrived in town a small wave of buzz that brought out a crowd to bask in their own dreamy blend of confessional indie rock.
The Oakland-based singer-songwriter, Madeline Kenney, released her debut studio album last September on Company Records. The album was produced by Company owner Chaz Bundick who records music as Toro y Moi, Les Sins, and under his own name as well. The album, Night Night at First Landing, was warmly received by critics initially and is still being discovered as a promising slow burner six months later.
Sophie Allison recently released her debut studio album for her project, Soccer Mommy, this past March to immediate praise. Clean showcases Allison’s growth from bedroom Bandcamp singer-songwriter to a fully realized band. With it’s succinct, emotionally unbridled nature, the record is likely to maintain the initial buzz all the way to many critics’ year end lists. On Clean, the 20 year-old Nashville resident sounds wise beyond her years, spinning personal yarns of yearning about the universal desire to love and be loved.
Photo by Lauren Ash
Sonically both Madeline Kenney and Soccer Mommy saturated the lounge with dreamy guitar laden tracks adorned with subtle flourishes that often stood in contrast to the lyrical content. Both artists write with razor sharp vulnerability, and heart-wrenching lyrical jabs injected the evening with an emotional edge, ebbing between waves of calm and catharsis for artist and audience alike.
The subjects of both Kenney and Allison’s songs are not victims, rather fearless, perfectly flawed human beings facing their problems head on with clarity. Sung with conviction this content manifested less as woe-is-me and more as a platform for empowering expression; delivered in a tone of nonchalance and set against some of their catchiest riffs, their medicine went down with their own spoonful of sugar.
Photo by Lauren Ash
Highlights from Kenney’s set included the slow shoegaze-y build of “Rita,” the realistic romance painted in “Waitless,” the oscillation between ethereal and anthemic throughout “Witching Hour,” and the humorous one liners of infatuation that constitute “Big One”. Soccer Mommy’s wryly vicious “Cool,” the jubilantly rhythmic “Last Girl,” and confident declaration of independence “Your Dog” floated to the top of her set. Allison also played three songs solo, stepping away from her band and proving just how much of Soccer Mommy is truly Sophie Allison.
Both artists wore their hearts on their sleeves Thursday, taking a bold step to showcase what we often feel but don’t always communicate with one another. Through their brave declarations came the opportunity of acceptance of these faults in ourselves, and a strong case for why both Madeline Kenney and Sophie Allison are turning so many heads in the process.