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4.7 out of 5 stars
Cerulean Salt [Explicit]
Format: MP3 Download|Change

on 2 July 2013
There are two types of song on Katie Crutchfield`s Cerulean Salt - the same type of hyper-intimate girl-and-guitar lo-fi as made her debut American Weekend memorable, and - with the inclusion of electric guitar and the barest bones of a band - spikier early-90s rock in the vein of, say, all the bands that Yuck owe royalties too. On both strains though you can just tell she's the sort of songwriter for whom lyrics are scribbled under lock and key whilst sat protectively in some bookish corner. As a result, you overhear certain of her tracks as you might by passing a school's music room after hours. It's almost voyeuristic at times, but it's this same quality that has given Crutchfield her sleeping, creeping success to date.

If this all sounds like a cliché, then it's only because Crutchfield evokes such achingly familiar imagery that you feel some of her songs have been around for years and that you and she are in some way star-crossed. Midway through the opener, "Hollow Bedroom", you'll realise you're transfixed, totally in love with the hometown girl that sits cross-legged at the foot of her bed. The cutesy, near-spoken "Lips And Limbs" too seems ripped straight from the set of some mumblecore masterpiece, such as may have starred a young Zooey Deschanel. So is it also a track that bleeds a little Rilo Kiley/ Jenny Lewis-brand alt-country into the mix, a sound that "Brother Bryan" will later take and slowly dismember with super-crude bass and rickety percussion. On "Peace And Quiet", she'll even manage to harness some of Neutral Milk Hotel`s classic tumbling themes and universal truths.

And then Crutchfield plugs in, the crackling distortion in "Misery Over Dispute" kicking like a whisky chaser, the buzz-saw intro to "Waiting" cutting the air like a lightning bolt. Even still, Crutchfield is still a creature of restraint for whom minimal means skeletal, and the fizzy "Coast To Coast" is the closest that Cerulean Salt comes to a full-band product, thanks in part to under-produced efforts from her friends Kyle Gilbride and Keith Spencer of Swearin'. Best of all, when Crutchfield swarms her husky Alabama accent around the barbed melodies of "Dixie Cups And Jars", it's as if she's perfected time travel back to the time when PJ Harvey and Liz Phair had youthful fire in their bellies.

Cerulean Salt`s real power however is its honesty. Crutchfield and her songs are completely, suffocatingly believable. Herein lies a problem though. These are songs to cherish and to share with the closest of friends, but equally are they songs likely to wither under the glare of overexposure. Put some of these songs on the main stage and they'll lose all resonance, keep the best ones secret and they'll mean the world to a lucky few.

Advised downloads: "Dixie Cups And Jars" and "Coast To Coast".
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on 18 March 2013
Last year's "American weekend" was a slow and subtle collection of lo-fi acoustic songs.
It held some real beauties, like "Catfish", "Grass stain" and "Bathtub" and was recorded
at her parents home during a single week in the winter. Pretty poor sound quality couldn't
ruin the impression of a major talent at work.

On "Cerulean Salt" she enlists the help of a three-piece band and the result is an album
with few flaws. The opening five songs make up for a perfect succession of songs, maybe
with "Brother Bryan" as the shiniest among them, and it's not much on it worth skipping.
I think the up-tempo rockers are the weakest tracks. By no means bad songs, they remind
me of another good album; Belly's "Star", but I still think these songs doesn't suit
her as well as the slow ones.

Cat Power is maybe the most obvious reference point here, and it will surprise me if this
doesn't go down especially well with people who have a soft spot for the "Moon Pix" album.
In some ways she can also be likened to Nina Nastasia.

4.5 stars. Beautiful stuff.
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on 30 March 2014
An excellent album from Waxahatchee which is basically just Katie Crutchfield on vocals/guitars with a few friends helping out.
It's 13 short tracks (only 3 exceed 3 minutes) of very sparse & intimate music carried mostly by just Katie's emotive voice and suitable bursts of guitar when needed.
Her voice is very evocative of a lot of female singers from late 80s/early 90s bands such as Throwing Muses (Kristin Hersh), Bratmobile, Shannon Wright, Kathleen Hanna etc etc and is quite breathy on quiet tracks e.g 'lips and limbs' (which has some nice twangy guitar) going up through plaintive/heartfelt on many tracks to getting quite shouty on 'misery over dispute'.
There's a duet with her sister Allison on 'Blue Pt 11' beautifully sounding like The Breeders when they were having some quieter moments.
It's a fine album, if somewhat downbeat, and worthy of 9 out of 10.
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on 25 February 2015
It reminds me of Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville, which is a good thing. The album has light and shade and has not been over produced. Some indie singer-songwriters album can too formatted and predictable. Cerulean Salt is varied with Dixie Cups and Jars and Coast to Coast being catchy pop songs, while others are slower and sparse sounding. I'm looking forward to the new album.
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on 8 February 2015
A great songwriter.
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on 6 July 2013
saw Waxahatchee with T+S last month and I was extremely impressed. Her voice is flawless, lyrics are great and the music is too!
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