If 2020 deserves an anthem, it could do worse than Monica LaPlante’s funky August release “Compression,” an ode to an ever-more isolated, paranoid life under quarantine. The lyrics are literal, on-the-nose, and instantly relatable.
First comes “Watchin’ movies, drinkin’ smoothies/Doing yoga online,” then “Checking in with every friend/That can’t stand being alone,” before, at last, the isolation wins: “I cancel plans to wash my hands/So no one else can come breathe here.”
For the record, LaPlante is doing fine. Good, even. The song was her way of processing an ocean of time after her furlough from a job in the service industry.
“The only way for me to get through all of the craziness was to sit and assess where my head’s at,” she says. “Like, I wasn’t the only one thinking I had chest pains, freaking out, talking to myself.”
LaPlante and three bandmates recorded the four songs on Quarantine , piece by piece, separately, in their respective homes. The result is coherent and stylish. “So Alone,” the other original song on the EP, sets a bluesy backdrop for LaPlante’s powerful voice, then breaks down into a stomping, upbeat outro. The set is rounded out with a cover of an Echo and the Bunnymen song and Linda McCartney’s “The Light Comes From Within,” an angry little number that lends itself shockingly well to a punk makeover.
Stuck with songs but no clubs to play, LaPlante has lately entered the performing-on-top-of-things era of her career—first as part of a series of bands playing a van that rolls (slowly) through Northeast, then atop a building off Central Avenue. LaPlante says her ultimate goal is to play a drive-in movie theater.
When she was getting her start, LaPlante also wrote about music, including for City Pages. Before deadlines and mean comments ended that pursuit, she found it fascinating to interview artists, even if the ones on the road were sometimes “crabby.”
How would LaPlante, former music writer, characterize her own sound? She thinks for a moment. “There’s already such a tone between labels like ‘D.I.Y.’ and ‘indie music’—but we are doing everything ourselves, and independently,” she says. “It’s rock music, with some sugary pop vocals to it. I like to think our melodies are catchy? It’s music that gets people energized.”