Twin sisters Katie (vocals and guitar) and Allison Crutchfield (drums) formed the Ackleys in their native Alabama and released one album, Ackleys (2005).
Then they formed a new band, P.S. Eliot, that
released two albums: Introverted Romance In Our Troubled Minds (2009)
and Sadie (2011).
Moving to Philadelphia, Allison Crutchfield formed Swearin' with vocalist and guitarist Kyle Gilbride. They recorded three albums: Swearin' (2012), Surfing Strange (2013) and What a Dump (2014), originally recorded in 2011.
Katie Crutchfield's solo project Waxahatchee debuted with the acoustic songs, anchored to simple stories, of American Weekend (2012), such as American Weekend and Be Good.
Waxahatchee's second album Cerulean Salt (Don Giovanni, 2013) boasted a raw electric sound, bordering on grunge-pop in Coast to Coast and Lively, which finally got some traction in the press.
However, there is little here that rises over the average.
After a decade of attempts, Katie Crutchfield finally made the transition to
mature singer-songwriter and arranger on her third album Ivy Tripp (Merge, 2015), coproduced with Kyle Gilbride.
The front is pretty wide.
La Loose echoes lo-fi synthpop of the 1980s (check out pioneers Flying Lizards).
Breathless rolls over a buring drone of guitar and organ.
The melodies are much more developed.
If Under A Rock apes Green Day-esque grandiloquent punk-pop, and
Poison piles up an excess of pop hooks and crunchy riffs like
Alanis Morissette fronting Pearl Jam,
The Dirt plunges us back into Sixties pop circa 1963 and we expect Randy & The Rainbows to intone Denise any minute.
There are several dull moments, like the
monotonous Less Than (despite its atonal coda); and
when she tries a bit too hard (as in Air), she falls down to Earth
The brief (33-minute) album Out In The Storm (Merge, 2017)
emphatically produced by John Agnello with a full band,
and yet another breakup concept
(Bob Dylanís Blood on the Tracks,
Joni Mitchell's Blue,
Nick Cave's The Boatmanís Call,
Kanye Westís 808s and Heartbreak,
Beckís Sea Change, etc),
was probably harriedly assembled to exploit her five minutes of fame.
The songs are bland and hard to distinguish from each other, as if she only knew one or two musical tricks.
Her musical transition is confirmed by a series of pounding rockers with distorted guitars, but only No Question achieves the desired results.
Just hammering on and on as they do on lead single Silver and on Brass Beam doesn't help craft memorable riffs, and adding weird
keyboard sounds as they do in Hear You only makes it worse.
Elsewhere, she is on a quest for the grand ballad but Never Been Wrong and Sparks Fly have a long way to go.
She runs out of riffs pretty quickly and several songs are mere filler.
Next to No Question, there is only one other song to save, and it's
the odd one of the batch: the whispered country-rock over twangy guitar 8 Ball,
Her twin sister Allison Crutchfield released her own debut album Tourist in This Town (2017).
Katie Crutchfield's Waxahatchee returned with the mediocre six-song EP
Great Thunder (2018) and the album
Saint Cloud (Merge, 2020), a bland collection of old-fashioned country-pop tunes with dull arrangements.
The serene jangling Can't Do Much, the tender The Eye and
the mildly anthemic and punkish Hell
are unfortunately sabotaged by tedious muzak like Fire and
The single Lilacs is emblematic of the embarrassing strategies of the album: a Dylan-ian lament that turns into emphatic pop; and
War sounds like a remix of Lilacs with pow-wow drums and
a melody that imitates Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone.
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