Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Waxahatchee Continues with Sincere Acoustic Alt Rock

Back in 2010, singer guitarist Katie Crutchfield then a member of indie rock outfit P.S. Eliot recorded a few dreamy acoustic pop songs in her bedroom.  The songs were deeply personal and would eventually lead to a debut album under the name Waxahatchee, named for a creek in Alabama where Katie grew up with twin sister and P.S. Eliot bandmate Alison Crutchfield.  The songs made up American Weekend released in 2012 on Don Giovanni Records.  The album was tight, definitively lo-fi and resonated with listeners.  As such, her follow up in 2013 was a highly anticipated record.  That follow up, titled Cerulean Salt was everything Waxahatchee fans hoped for and more.  Recorded in her basement this time, the songs retain their personal simplicity while adding layers of simple alt rock to push the tunes into new territory.  Recorded alongside her sisters band Sweain’ minus drummer Jeff Bolt, the tracks keep Katie’s voice and lyrics as the centerpiece with backing drums and haunting riffs supporting her ethereal, deeply intimate vibe.  Tracks like “Dixie Cups and Jars” are heavy in their own right with Swearin’ guitarist Kyle Gilbride’s succinct solos breaking up Crutchfield’s poetic ranting.  The light, happy “Lips and Limbs” gives off a campfire sing along vibe before the childlike “Blue Pt. II” which has the Crutchfield sisters singing in perfect unison.  While most songs keep things more low key fueling the feeling that you’re sitting in a living room watching her perform, some push things into static rock territory like the short “Misery Over Dispute” which gives way to one of the softer tracks “Lively”.  Closing track “You’re Damaged” give you goosebumps as Katie returns to the roots of American Weekend with a beautifully constructed acoustic gem.   Each and every track is better than the last and mixes up the sound of the album while maintaining a cohesive and understandable aesthetic.  Waxahatchee’s latest album Ivy Trip released earlier this month is her first away from Don Giovanni and also marks the first time she’s recorded in a studio instead of her own home causing many longtime fans to question her motives and sincerity.  However, the songs are all a product from a reclusive year spent with boyfriend and Swearin’ bassist Keith Spencer holed up in a house in Long Island.  As such, fans can expect the same 90’s infused poppy alt rock which Crutchfield has been known for since her days in P.S. Eliot.  The heartfelt lyrics, and profound sense of understanding which radiates from her songs is still present.  The studio space allows her to grow as an artist and while I appreciate the suspiciousness of leaving the lo-fi game behind for more polished compositions, I think it is something which Waxahatchee will only use to their advantage.  So much more than the solo project it began as, this is a musical endeavor which is quickly becoming one of the best acts of the 2010’s and is certainly cementing Katie Crutchfield as one of the preeminent songwriters of her generation.

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