Posts Tagged ‘Katie Crutchfield’

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On September 7th, Katie Crutchfield’s ever-shifting musical project Waxahatchee returns with the Great Thunder EP. Featuring a collection of songs written with now-dormant experimental recording group Great Thunder while Crutchfield was also writing the Waxahatchee albums Cerulean Salt and Ivy Tripp, the original recordings have mostly faded into obscurity. Unearthing and reimagining them with producer Brad Cook at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio in Wisconsin was a cathartic experience, she says.

Crutchfield shares Great Thunder’s release details as well as a music video for the solemn “Chapel of Pines,” directed by Christopher Good and starring Crutchfield and Kevin Morby. Watch and share, then pre-order Great Thunder on CD, 12-inch EP, and limited-edition opaque yellow Peak Vinyl in the Merge Records store .

On the heels of last year’s critically acclaimed Out in the Storm, Crutchfield found herself looking to take a sharp turn away from the more rock-oriented influences of her recent records towards her more folk and country roots. “I would say that it is a complete 180 from the last record: super stripped-down, quiet, and with me performing solo, it’s a throwback to how I started,” writes Crutchfield. “Overall, the EP is a warm, kind of vibey recording.”

Crutchfield will take Waxahatchee out on the road solo for the remainder of the year, first at headlining shows in September before linking up with Courtney Barnett through October.

Waxahatchee, 'Out in the Storm'

In the years I’ve been a watcher and a huge Katie Crutchfield fan, I always thought there was something intrinsically melancholy about her indie-pop tunes, but damn, the joy in this music, not a moment of it forced, the way “I went out in the storm and I’m never turning back” dissolves into falsetto oooos and delirious guitar frills. From “Silver” to “8-Ball,” her melodic finesse glistens like never before. (If you play this album back to back with Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage, you really hear how much Lindsey Buckingham has seeped into her guitar, and Lindsey never did anyone’s guitar anything but good.) The clincher: “Sparks Fly,” with a vocal assist from her twin sister Alison Crutchfield, whose Tourist in This Town album is on the same level and another must listen.

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American Weekend, was the 2012 debut album from Katie Crutchfield’s solo Waxahatchee project. Despite being the most rudimentary of her four LP-strong discography, American Weekend is the one I find myself returning to, especially when I feel lonely – not because it offers comfort, but because it offers solidarity, which I suppose is comfort of a different sort. It’s a particularly helpful album to listen to in January, because while it’s an appropriate conduit for the sentiments commonly felt throughout the month, its summery feel is also a distraction from the physical realities of shit weather and central heating. Despite its outdoorsy warmth, however,American Weekend is intimate too.

Take the record’s opener “Catfish”: the recording is fuzzy, the guitar-playing is delicate, the vocal almost a whisper, the poetry of the lyrics recited as if it were the only time they’d ever been said aloud. The song functions as a series of snapshots, of moments captured, brought together abstractly. It remembers better times – closeness, conversation, “Getting high in Portland, Oregon” – and it sets the tone for the entire album. The final two lines on “Catfish” are thus: “It’ll look just like heaven when I get up and leave / You’re a ghost and I can’t breathe.” American Weekend is a set of songs about transience, other people, and the way we process both. To use Crutchfield’s own phrasing: the past, and the figures in it, often resemble a type of heaven once we’ve left them behind.

The tracks on American Weekend often feel like they’re located in the time you spend reflecting on something once it’s happened, when it exists only in your memory. The record’s final track “Noccalula” forms a companion piece to “Catfish”, capturing the simple, painful truth of the passage of time in a rare, plain way: “You’ve got a husband now / I have Waxahatchee Creek / And you used to come here with me,” Crutchfield sings, an entire past contained in the longer breath she takes before the third line.

Crutchfield’s lyrics on American Weekend are as emotionally dense as they had been for P.S. Eliot, one of the bands she played in with her sister Allison before starting Waxahatchee. The dramatic scene Crutchfield paints on “Noccalula” – of a sole woman standing against the vastness of nature, left to herself by the players of her past – is one instance of her ability to cram so much impact into only a few words. Later on the song, she notes more abandonment (“Allison’s only calling me when her life’s falling apart,” she sings of her sister). Indeed, loneliness (and aloneness, because they’re not the same thing) feel like the default setting for American Weekend, making for an absorbing sonic environment. There is no way to listen to “Bathtub,” for example, without feeling like you too are naked and alone, exposed to sun streaming onto your body through a window cracked open 45 degrees, your skin slick with water and your own dirt.

And even the one track that reads as a sweet, present ode to companionship, “Be Good,” is crisp at its edges with sadness. On the surface, it’s a breezy disavowal of Anything Too Serious, all sunny chords, smitten late night phone calls: “You don’t wanna be my boyfriend / And I don’t wanna be your girl,” the lyrics attest. Maybe it’s just me and my own projections, but Crutchfield’s refusal of a real relationship, one outside of the non-committal “world” she and her subject have built for themselves, isn’t that persuasive, but it is one I know by heart. One section reveals her reservations:

Sometimes it’s simpler to allow a good thing to remain a good thing, crystallised in time, a perfect season to look back at – that’s what Crutchfield decides for the romance on “Be Good.” One phrase quoted above, however, stands out. “I’ll disappear.” For me it brings to mind the ways in which some relationships drain you, wringing out your essential self until you have managed to squeeze into a mould of what someone else wants. Katie Crutchfield can see it coming on “Be Good,” so she avoids it, choosing instead to retain herself, even if it means inhabiting loneliness from time to time.

When Katie Crutchfield released her last record as Waxahatchee, 2015’s Ivy Tripp, she called the album a gas and her release before that, 2013’s Cerulean Salt, a solid. But her fourth full-length, Out in the Storm, may not symbolize a physical state of matter, but it reveals Crutchfield as a scientific element in her own right—explosive, volatile and uncontrollable. At moments where Crutchfield used to put herself down, like on Ivy Tripp’s “Less Than,” she now talks back, standing up for herself, even to herself. She allows herself to get angry or frustrated, such as on “Never Wrong,” the record’s purely rock ‘n’ roll opening track. And she indignantly removes herself from a noxious relationship and asserts her independence on tracks like “8 Ball” and “Brass Beam,” but later portrays the vulnerability and weakness that unavoidably merge with that withdrawal

After the release of 2015’s excellent Ivy Tripp, Katie Crutchfield, a.k.a. Waxahatchee, suggested her next album would revisit the quiet minimalism of her debut, American Weekend. What she produced instead was her loudest, angriest, and—most importantly—best album to date. Out In The Storm is a scathingly candid post-mortem of a bad relationship that isn’t the slog such a description might suggest. The album opens with the catchy, Superchunk-esque guitar rocker “Never Been Wrong” and keeps its hooks in for the nine following tracks. (Credit producer John Agnello for some of that, as his discography goes deep with some of the best guitar-rock bands of the past two decades.) This being Waxahatchee, Out In The Storm still offers plenty of quieter moments, like the slow burn of “Recite Remorse,” the acoustic “A Little More,” and somber album closer “Fade.” The album marks a high point for Crutchfield, who turned a soul-destroying time of her life into one of 2017’s best releases.

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Katie Crutchfield should be exhausted. Since 2012’s American Weekend LP, the debut record from Crutchfield’s Waxahatchee moniker, the musician has toured regularly and recorded three additional Waxahatchee records, most recently the forthcoming Out in the Storm (released on July 14th). Along with her twin sister, Allison, the Crutchfields have released some of the most emotionally honest, uncannily catchy pop music over the past handful of years. Included in the set is “Silver,” the debut single off Out in the Storm, The song, builds upon the Waxahatchee mold of songwriting, mixing Katie’s evocative, articulate lyrics, with a guitar muscle visible on 2015’s Ivy Tripp.

Katie Crutchfield said that Out in the Storm was recorded in the midst and aftermath of a break-up, though the record can not be considered a traditional break-up record. Crutchfield’s lyrics on “Silver” hint at this emotional backdrop (“I went out in the storm// I felt the house burning// the kiss on my lips starts to feel unfamiliar”) though her focus on the track seems more rooted in issues of self-discovery, as she sings “a part of me rots// my skin all turns silver.” Crutchfield may be newly transformed, but “Silver” retains the clarity and spirit which has characterized her best work.

Waxahatchee performing live in the KEXP studio. Recorded July 24, 2017.

Songs: Recite Remorse Silver Hear You Never Been Wrong

Katie Crutchfield is nervous. It’s a few weeks before the release of her new album, “Out in the Storm”, and the 28-year-old singer-songwriter — known for her deeply personal, candid work — is only beginning to come to terms with the fact that she’ll soon be sharing with the world the most unflinching and detailed record she’s ever made. As she puts it in the lead track, “Never Been Wrong,” “Everyone will hear me complain/Everyone will pity my pain.”

Over the past decade or so Crutchfield has played in a variety of upstart DIY bands that blend folkie intimacy with cascading electric guitars, often sharing the stage with her twin sister, Allison. Out in the Storm is her fourth release as Waxahatchee, and her second for the indie mainstay Merge Records. She’s long been celebrated for the emotional directness of her songwriting, which places a magnifying glass on her own flawed tendencies and relatable shortcomings. But Crutchfield has never put out a record quite so raw as her latest, which chronicles the dissolution of her long-term relationship in painful detail.

“I can’t believe people are going to hear this,” says Crutchfield, calling from her home in Philadelphia. “Every day I wake up, as we get closer and closer to putting the record out, and I’m like, ‘This is the best thing I’ve done.’ And then the next day, I’m like, ‘I can’t put this record out.’ ”

Waxahatchee’s music organizes conflicting emotions into something resembling clear-minded self-awareness. The first Waxahatchee album, 2012’s American Weekend, was a stark collection of acoustic songs that Crutchfield recorded in her family’s home in Alabama. “I don’t care if I’m too young to be unhappy,” she sang on “Grass Stain,” after promising to drink her way to happiness. She explored the self-destructive tendencies of twentysomethings stuck in slow-motion memories, establishing herself as indie rock’s sharpest self-scrutinizer in the process.

The pain of Out in the Storm feels as fresh as a newly skinned knee, but it took some time for Crutchfield to write songs she felt comfortable sharing with others. “I really tried to not write when I was in the middle of all this craziness at the end of that relationship, because when I did try to write while stuff was still going on, I was in such a state. I hadn’t fully processed a lot of things,” she says. The first songs Crutchfield came up with sounded like they were written by an “angsty fifteen-year-old girl.” They were “too earnest,” she says, “to the point where I felt uncomfortable putting them out in the world.”

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In fact, there are still moments on the finished album (“Brass Beam,” parts of “No Question”) that give Crutchfield concern “It’s just like, oof, there it is,” she says. That unadulterated openness is what resonates profoundly with an internet-raised generation eager to admit to “feeling all the feels,” and a growing fanbase that includes admirers like Sleater-Kinney, Lena Dunham, and Kurt Vile.

For Out in the Storm, her first full-length recorded with an outsider producer, Crutchfield reached out to John Agnello, who’s worked with artists like Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. “There’s a real backstory to these lyrics, and that might be why this record has such an edge to it,” says Agnello. “Katie was really motivated to go in a certain direction, and the talent and energy from her and her band was just incredible.”.

“All the things I learned from the American Weekend era have been thoroughly applied to my life now,” she says. “This record’s more about gracefully ending a relationship.” On “Sparks Fly,” Crutchfield needs only three words to sum up both the premise and the promise of her new LP: “A disaster, dignified.”

Releases July 14th, 2017

Katie Crutchfield: vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, additional percussion
Katie Harkin: vocals, guitars, keyboards, piano, additional percussion
Allison Crutchfield: keyboards, additional percussion
Ashley Arnwine: drums
Katherine Simonetti: bass
Joey Doubek: additional percussion

All songs written by Katie Crutchfield

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Katie Crutchfield, of Waxahatchee, came to Miner Street with drummer Ashley Arnwine and bassist Katherine Simonetti on January 21st, 2017—the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump. As millions of women marched in cities around the world, Waxahatchee made their voices heard in the studio, recording a fierce and powerful anthem called “No Curse” Since recording their forthcoming album ‘Out in the Storm’ at Miner Street, the band was happy to return and lay down one more track. Although the song is a band favorite, they had never actually played it together, and worked on the spot to arrive at a structure that did justice to the roaring hook and swaying melody.

Brian and Matt set out to A/B the Rode microphones used to capture all of last season’s Shaking Through songs with the mics that are most commonly used at Miner Street. They were pleasantly surprised to find that, in some instances, the Rode mics won over the Neumann and AEAs! The Rode NTRs were used as room mics over the AEAs, and to mic the bass, the K2 was favored for its texture in the high end. Brian, excited to record loud guitar tracks, employed the Fender Champ and the Supro in tandem with the ever-reliable BadCat.

The lyrics for “No Curse” are an honest confrontation in the face of lying and not being taken seriously. With this song, Katie distances herself from toxic relationships in her past. “No Curse” gives her a “greater sense of agency” to escape those with a “warped sense of reality”—an experience that’s so appropriate in this era of mass confusion and anger. As Brian says, “There are a lot of bands that have drums, bass, guitar, and vocals. but there’s really only one band that has Katie’s singing, personality, melodic style—and that’s Waxahatchee.” This song and this band are unapologetically themselves, and it comes across in their music loud and clear. “You can hear human personality at the core of what is being delivered. It’s not generic; it’s Katie.”

PERFORMED BY
Katie Crutchfield – Vocals, Guitar
Katherine Simonetti – Bass
Ashley Arnwine – Drums

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Katie Crutchfield’s southern roots are undeniable. The name of her solo musical project Waxahatchee comes from a creek not far from her childhood home in Alabama and seems to represent both where she came from and where she’s going. Katie Crutchfield has been nothing but honest as the artist Waxahatchee . Her careful words carry keen insight — and she writes sharp songs to match. Waxahatchee’s fourth album, Out In The Storm, takes a hard look not just at broken relationship, but also at the spiraling aftermath.

“I don’t want to call it a break-up record, but it was a romantic and professional relationship that fell apart,” Crutchfield says. “I had to end it, and it rippled throughout every little corner of my life.”

“Silver,” the album’s first single out today with a video directed by Catherine Elicson, is the sound of the world crashing down around you — and that humbly recognizes that “the whole world keeps turning.” The guitar-driven track has a diaphanous sheen that unfolds in slow motion, but with weight that sparks a difficult epiphany.

Out In The Storm comes out July 14th on Merge Records. Waxahatchee goes on tour with The New Pornographers through America starting April 18th.

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Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield wanders around South by Southwest in this lyric video for “I Decide,” the lead-off single from The Julie Ruin’s Hit Reset, our 7/8/16 on CD, LP, cassette, and digital formats from Hardly Art records.

The Julie Ruin will release the follow up to 2013’s Run Fast album in July. Titled Hit Reset, the first single from it is this brilliant slice of stomping indie rock, I Decide. It somehow manages to be outrageously catchy while simultaneously sounding like an angry bunch of wasps trapped in a jam jar.

Watch the lyric video starring Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee, which was filmed in Austin during SXSW,

 

 

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Waxahatchee performs “Under A Rock” for a World Cafe Session with host, David Dye. Recorded at WXPN/World Cafe Studios on 30/5/15