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Waxahatchee — Cerulean Salt (2013)

 Waxahatchee — Cerulean Salt (2013)

Waxahatchee — Cerulean Salt
•  Waxahatchee is a solo project of songwriter Katie Crutchfield formed after the breakup of P.S. Eliot. She released her first music as Waxahatchee as a split cassette with Chris Clavin on Plan-It-X Records. Her bedroom-recorded debut album, American Weekend, was released on Don Giovanni Records in 2012.
Katie has a twin sister Alison who also played in P.S. Eliot and The Ackleys with her.
•  On June 11, 2012 "Be Good" was the song of the day on National Public Radio as well as one of the best 50 songs of 2012. Her debut album, American Weekend, was named a top album of 2012 by Dusted magazine.
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Album release: March 5, 2013
Record Label: Don Giovanni
Duration:     32:35
Tracks:
01. Hollow Bedroom     (1:49)
02. Dixie Cups And Jars     (3:36)
03. Lips And Limbs     (2:38)
04. Blue Pt. II     (2:19)
05. Brother Bryan     (2:37)
06. Coast To Coast     (1:46)
07. Tangled Envisioning     (2:27)
08. Misery Over Dispute     (1:43)
09. Lively     (2:32)
10. Waiting     (1:41)
11. Swan Dive     (3:15)
12. Peace And Quiet     (2:38)
13. You're Damaged     (3:34)
•  Producer Kyle Gilbride
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/waxahatchee
Description:
•  "On this new record, Crutchfield’s songs continue to be marked by her sharp, hooky songwriting; her striking voice and lyrics that simultaneously seem hyper-personal yet relentlessly relatable, teetering between endearingly nostaglic and depressingly dark. But whereas before the thematic focus of her songcraft was on break ups and passive-aggressive crushing, this record reflects on her family and Alabama upbringing. And whereas American Weekend was mostly just Crutchfield and her guitar, Cerulean Salt is occassionally amped up, with a full band and higher-fi production."
•  De l'indie folk rock alternatif au féminin, pas mal du tout. A découvrir.
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By Otis Hart; http://www.npr.org; February 24, 201310:30 PM
•  There's a line tucked into "Coast to Coast," from Waxahatchee's new album Cerulean Salt, that makes for a great introduction to Katie Crutchfield. After perhaps the most anthemic moment of the record — an exasperated reference to a talk show that keeps truckers and touring musicians awake at the wheel — she slips in what at first appears as an afterthought, but becomes a raison d'etre the more you listen: "I'll try to embrace the lows."
•  The lows in this case represent a variety of young-adult albatrosses: loneliness, fickle feelings, anxiety, self-doubt. We all encounter these emotions at various points in our lives, but most of us tend to quarantine them, lest anyone realizes how truly messed-up we feel inside. Crutchfield — or, more accurately, her songwriting — thrives on those periods of fragility. Her characters are almost always ambivalent, sophisticated adolescents wrestling with an uneasy mix of emotions. Happiness is a moment's peace; love a two-state solution.
•  Crutchfield, 24, has been writing songs for about 10 years, dating back to her time in Birmingham high-school band The Ackleys (which NPR member station WBHM profiled way back in 2005) and later the D.I.Y. punk band P.S. Eliot (both of which included her twin sister Allison on drums). This puts her in the unlikely position of addressing teenage flux with seasoned songcraft, which she did to devastating effect on last year's American Weekend — which featured one of NPR Music's 100 favorite songs of 2012, "Be Good."
•  Cerulean Salt (out March 5) marks a departure from American Weekend's solitary acoustic guitar. Crutchfield wrote and sang all of these songs herself, but enlisted help from her friends when bringing them to life. Her boyfriend, Keith Spencer of the band Swearin', adds drums to eight of these tracks, and her sister's boyfriend, Kyle Gilbride (also of Swearin'), produced the album in the four's group house in Philadelphia, making Cerulean Salt something of a family affair.
•  The instrumentation may have changed, but Waxahatchee is still all about Crutchfield's heartrendingly honest lyrics, and she doesn't disappoint. The opening couplet sets the tone: "I left like I got my way / But truly I left with nothing at all." She has a way of making dysfunctional relationships sound like something to strive for, as in this line from "Swan Dive": "And we will find a way to be / lonely any chance we get / And I'll keep having dreams about / loveless marriage and regret." There are more where that came from; your past, but hopefully not your present, will dictate which lines speak to you.
•  So go ahead. Press play and get low. You'll feel better.
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By Lindsay Zoladz; March 7, 2013 (Rating: 8.4)
•  Last year's American Weekend, Katie Crutchfield's piercing debut as Waxahatchee, got passed around like a secret. On the surface, it was a modest record-- 11 lo-fi acoustic songs written and recorded in the span of a week while snowed in at her parents' neighborless Alabama home near the body of water from which the project takes its name. Chronicling missed connections and cell phones smashed in moments of frustration, it was an album-length meditation on the modern allure of going off the grid (the first song was called "Catfish", but it wasn't about that). But what gutted you was a voice that cut through the murk like infomercial shower cleaner. Crutchfield sang frankly ("I think I love you, but you'll never find out") and without inhibition, as if she desperately wanted but didn't expect to be heard.
•  Cerulean Salt, Crutchfield's new album, is going to be heard. But from its opening moments, you get the sense that she's ready for it, the newfound assurance, steadiness, and clarity of her voice immediately obvious. "We are late, we are loud, we remain connected as you're reading out loud," she sings on the smolderingly evocative opener, "Hollow Bedroom". Like American Weekend, it begins with just a guitar and a voice, though this time the instrument's plugged in and the recording sounds more professional. (It was still recorded at home, this time in the Philadelphia house she shares with her sister and bandmates.) But it's no less intimate-- if anything, the clean recording only brings you in tighter. Crutchfield's voice rises to be heard over the distortion that kicks in during the song's final minute. "And I don't believe that I care at all," she sings with quiet defiance. "What they hear through these walls."
•  Since her early teens, Crutchfield has been a precocious, prolific songwriter, and now that she's in her early 20s, she's already a veteran of a number of short-lived projects: an early solo act called King Everything, plus a few melodic punk bands she played in with her twin sister, Swearin' frontwoman Allison, including Bad Banana, the Ackleys, and P.S. Eliot. Crutchfield hails from Alabama-- a fact that's stamped all over her voice's twangy swagger-- but her songs have a drifter's perspective that suggest that, in a sense, she's also come from everywhere. Her music is partially about being young and on the road, what happens in those rare cases when teenage wanderlust is not a suburban daydream, but an everyday reality.
•  Cerulean Salt is full of vagrant wisdom and people who might once have hitchhiked across the country but were born into a moment when they could just join a punk band instead. They crash on shitty group house floors, cram their gear and bodies into vans with questionable, unexplained "blood on the back seat," and shirk from commitment whenever feelings are anything more than fleeting.  "I'll try to embrace the lows," she sings on "Coast to Coast", a song whose buoyant static makes the most of her new band members (Kyle Gilbride and Keith Spencer from Swearin' add bass and drums).
•  Crutchfield has a way of delivering a line so casually that it takes a half-dozen listens to fully realize how devastating it is. "I had a dream last night, we had hit separate bottoms," she sings, a brilliant, crushing line hidden in the middle of the gently strummed "Lively". Her songs paint scenes in quick, deft strokes thanks to her knack for knowing exactly which physical details will carry emotional resonance. There's something almost unbearably poignant about the wedding reception she describes where "make-up sets on [the bride's] face like tar" and "the champagne flutes poorly engineered, employ dixie cups and jars."
•  Marriage, tradition, and lineage are all sources of great anxiety in a Waxahatchee song. There was a track on American Weekend about a grandmother, with the repeated refrain, "You got married when you were 15," uttered with disbelief, as though Crutchfield were trying to imagine how different her own life would be had the same been true for her. These themes are explored in more depth on Cerulean Salt; in "Swan Dive" she confesses that "dreams about loveless marriage and regret" keep her up at night, while she presents a peer's wedding as more of a "tragic epilogue" than a celebration on "Dixie Cups and Jars" (which feels like a slightly more harrowing take on Built to Spill's "Twin Falls"). "You’ll remain," she says to her, "I will find a way to leave gracefully, or I'll escape." Where she'll go isn't clear, but it's these free-floating desires and unanswered questions that give Crutchfield's songs their haunting power.
•  "This place is vile, and I'm vile too," Crutchfield howls on the stunning closer, "You're Damaged". In the hands of a lesser singer, a line like that might feel too exposed. But Crutchfield's characters can't help but be exactly who they say they are: they're catfish in a Catfish world. And as they squirm, flop, and clumsily make their way through their lives, their specific experiences become something universal. "For me, the only way to write lyrics is not to think about other people at all," Crutchfield said in a recent interview. "You just have to write stuff for you and only you, and not worry about how people are going to take it. It'll be inevitably relatable because it's true to you." It’s that blazingly honest, hyper-personal quality that places Cerulean Salt in the tradition of Elliott Smith, early Cat Power, or Liz Phair's free-flowing Girlysound tapes-- the work of a songwriter skilled enough to make introspection seem not self-centered, but generous. (http://pitchfork.com)Katie Crutchfield
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Album Of The Week: Waxahatchee Cerulean Salt
Mar 5th '13 by Tom Breihan @ 4:57pm 
(http://stereogum.com/1280222/album-of-the-week-waxahatchee-cerulean-salt/top-stories)
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SLANT MAGAZINE:
by Matt Cohen on March 8, 2013 (Rating: ***,5)
(http://www.slantmagazine.com/music/review/waxahatchee-cerulean-salt/2995)
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PASTE MAGAZINE:
By Dan Weiss. Published at 3:12 PM on March 12, 2013  (Rating: 7.2)
(http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2013/03/waxahatchee-cerulean-salt.html)
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DUSTED MAGAZINE:
By Jennifer Kelly
http://www.dustedmagazine.com/reviews/7595
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EXPERT WITNESS
By Robert Christgau  (Rating: A -)
http://social.entertainment.msn.com/music/blogs/expert-witness-blogpost.aspx?post=f9bcb5c3-b5fb-4259-ac9c-c3ebe625a4fa
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Notes:
•  Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
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Waxahatchee — Cerulean Salt (2013)

 

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