Music

The Tea Club Return with Dense Pastoral Dejection on "If I Mean When" (premiere)

Photo courtesy of the artist

The Tea Club's latest single finds the quintet evoking classic folk rock artists in the midst of maintaining their knack for evocative songwriting and arrangements.

Pennsylvania is home to a multitude of outstanding progressive/art rock acts, but none infuse their powerfully intricate dynamics with the folk rock splendor of yesteryear quite like the Tea Club. Thus far, the quintet—Patrick McGowan (vocals/guitar), Dan Monda (drums), Joe Dorsey (keyboards), Dan McGowan (vocals, guitar), and Jamie Wolff (bass/violin/cello)—have shared the stage with the likes of Thank You Scientist, the Flower Kings, and Beardfish, as well as received praise from countless noteworthy publications (including PROG). On their latest single, "If I Mean When" (taken from their upcoming fifth LP, If / When), the band taps into their lusciously rustic and regretful side with a beautifully arranged acoustic ode that lingers long after it's over.

Of the track, songwriter Dan McGowan confesses, "I felt bombarded by hopelessness and cynicism from all directions. It felt like I was being attacked... I was trying to maintain hope, but I was being beaten down. So I started to come up with these lyrics that were like a caricature of that extreme hopelessness. Yeah, yeah, we're all going to die, and life is meaningless and everyone knows it, so why bother? It was my sarcastic way of pushing back, but I think I accidentally wound up saying something really sincere with it."

Likewise, Dorsey says that If / When as a whole deals with 'dichotomies like cynicism and hope', while Wolff hopes that the record "can be a way for listeners to connect with the all-encompassing beauty of life and that it can work against the tides of alienation in the world". With its piercingly impassioned guitar strums, resolute percussion, nostalgic piano chords, commanding vocals (including dense harmonies), and slight symphonic ether, it certainly achieves that intention. It channels the pastoral angst of classic CSNY, the Byrds, and Tom Petty while also clearly maintaining the Tea Club's DNA. Above all else, it cements their skill at prioritizing songwriting and succulent arrangements over anything else.

Take a listen to "If I Mean When" for yourself and let us know what you think! It's available now on all streaming platforms. Also, keep an eye out for If / When when it releases on 30 July.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

The Texas Gentlemen Share the Powerful and Soulful "Last Call" (premiere)

Eclectic Texas band, the Texas Gentlemen return with a vibrant, imaginative LP that resists musical boundaries. Hear their latest epic single, "Last Call".

Music

Vincent Cross Pays Tribute to Folk Hero via "King Corcoran" (premiere)

Gangs of New York-era James "The Rooster" Corcoran was described as the terror of New York's east side. His descendent, Vincent Cross, retells his story with a "modern dark fairy tale".

Music

Eddy Lee Ryder Gets Lonely and Defiant with "Expected to Fly" (premiere)

Eddy Lee Ryder explores the loss of friendship and refusal to come of age, cloaked in the deeply dramatic and powerful song, "Expected to Fly".

Playlists

Rock 'n' Roll with Chinese Characteristics: Nirvana Behind the Great Wall

Like pretty much everywhere else in the pop music universe, China's developing rock scene changed after Nirvana. It's just that China's rockers didn't get the memo in 1991, nor would've known what to do with it, then.

Film

Creative Disruption in 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'

Portrait of a Lady on Fire yearns to burn tyrannical gendered tradition to ash and remake it into something collaborative and egalitarian.

Music

Fave Five: The Naked and Famous

Following two members leaving the group in 2018, synthpop mavens the Naked and Famous are down to a duo for the first time ever and discuss the records they turned to help make their aptly-named fourth record, Recover.

Evan Sawdey
Books

Fleetwood Dissects the European Mindset in His Moody, Disturbing Thriller, 'A Young Fair God'

Hugh Fleetwood's difficult though absorbing A Young Fair God offers readers a look into the age-old world views that have established and perpetuated cultural rank and the social attitudes that continue to divide us wherever we may reside in the world.

Music

Art Feynman Creates Refreshing Worldbeat Pop on 'Half Price at 3:30'

On Half Price at 3:30, Art Feynman again proves himself adept at building colorful worlds from unexpected and well-placed aural flourishes.

Music

The Beths Are Sharp As Ever on 'Jump Rope Gazers'

New Zealand power-poppers the Beths return with a sophomore album that makes even the most senior indie-rock acts feel rudimentary by comparison.

Music

Jessie Ware Returns to Form on 'What's Your Pleasure'

On What's Your Pleasure, Jessie Ware returns to where it all began, the dance floor.

Music

The Jayhawks Offer Us Some 'XOXO'

The Jayhawks offer 12-plus songs on XOXO to help listeners who may be alone and scared by reminding us that we are all alone together.

Music

Steve McDonald Remembers the Earliest Days of Redd Kross

Steve McDonald talks about the year that produced the first Redd Kross EP, an early eighth-grade graduation show with a then-unknown Black Flag, and a punk scene that welcomed and defined him.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.