Soccer Mommy, Madeline Kenney
“I don’t want to be your fucking dog,” sings Soccer Mommy’s Sophie Allison on “Your Dog,” a highlight from her new album Clean. Over knotty, distorted guitars and churning bass, Allison is equal turns confrontational and vulnerable. “I want a love that lets me breathe/I’ve been choking on your leash.” It’s a mission statement, a reclamation of power, a rewriting of all indie rock’s rules.
Soccer Mommy is the project of twenty-year-old Sophie Allison, a Nashville native. She cut her teeth in her local DIY scene, going to shows and hanging out with other musicians, though she kept her own songwriting secret. “I’ve played music since I was six,” says Allison, “and I always wrote songs just for myself. I did it for fun, posting songs on Tumblr, Bandcamp, and Soundcloud. I didn’t think anyone would notice.”
All that changed the summer before Allison left for college. She bought a Tascam digital recorder and began to experiment with production, pushing the quality and craft of her songs to new heights. A buzz began to grow around her Bandcamp recordings, leading to live shows and eventually a record deal, with 2017’s critically acclaimed bedroom-recorded compilation Collection. “I realized that I could do this full-time,” says Allison. “It was either quit school now and do it, or stop growing as an artist. It was now or never.”
So Allison took the plunge. She quit school, moved back home to Nashville, shifting all her focus to music. She toured with Mitski, Jay Som, Slowdive, and others, and was featured in the New York Times article “Rock’s Not Dead, It’s Ruled By Women.” The bedroom project of Sophie Allison is now a full-time band with a new studio-album debut, Clean. Produced by Gabe Wax (War On Drugs, Deerhunter, Beirut) and mixed by Ali Chant (Perfume Genius, PJ Harvey), Clean is Allison’s journey out of the bedroom and into the studio.
Madeline Kenney is a renaissance woman. She has a degree in neuroscience, is a skilled artist, painter and knitter, was a baker for over 9 years, and makes ends meet by nannying during the day. One might wonder where she finds the time for music, but not only has she been a musician since the age of three, but she also writes and records her own material, currently teaches voice and piano lessons, runs a small record label and is learning how to produce and engineer at the Women’s Audio Mission – the only women-built and run studio in the world.
Kenney moved to the Bay Area in 2014 to pursue a career in baking, but ultimately found a supportive local arts community that inspired her to return to her musical roots. A chance encounter with Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bear resulted in her debut EP Signals, which was produced by Bear and released on his label Company Records. Immediately after its release, Kenney began working on her debut album. As with Signals, Bear was on hand as producer, but with Kenney as the writer, arranger and key creative force. Kenney also appears on a track on Toro Y Moi’s latest album Boo Boo.
An accomplished full-length debut, Night Night At The First Landing is a cohesive record balanced by serene beauty, cathartic breakdowns, Kenney’s powerful voice, and masterfully complex and emotional lyrics. Night Night is unavoidably dreamy, dipping into sweet fuzz while sailing through smooth, crystalline production. Though Night Night At The First Landing is technically her first full-length, music has always been a key part of Kenney’s life. Singing came naturally to the bold-voiced Kenney and she was singing loudly before beginning to study piano at the age of five. To call this record a “debut” is something of a misnomer, as those who know Kenney best might note: she’s always made music. And for the sake of music lovers, she hopefully always will.