New Borns: Waxahatchee, Toro y Moi

Just two New Borns for you all this week because our focus turned to Coachella and Burgerama, two big festivals that you will soon be able to get read about as we post two music features. Anyhow for now, we had our international writer Jerome, listen to Waxahatchee, the solo project of Katie Crutchfield and if you enjoy the music of Regina Spektor or PJ Harvey, well then you will have to give this one a listen.  Our Sydney writer Matt, spent the week listening to the cool sounds Toro Y Moi, a complete turn for this highly talented solo artist.  What For? takes a nostalgic trip to the 70’s and may have many of his fans scratching their heads, but will definitely have him with a big handful of new fans to juggle.  

waxatcheeArtist: Waxahatchee

Album Title: Ivy Tripp

Label: Merge Records

Genre: Indie Rock/Punk

Moments Of: PJ Harvey, Regina Spektor

Stand Out: Breathless, Air, Bonfire

Faceless 1Carried by a sensitive voice, Ivy Tripp is the third album from Katie Crutchfield, also known as Waxahatchee.  For this time aroud, Crutchfield works alongside multi instrumentalist Kyle Gilbride and Keith Spencer and follows a pop direction without any lacked ambition. A new victory from an immerging face of the indi rock / punk scene.

In 2012 Crutchfield realease American Weekend, the first album of her musical project 4 years after her first band PS Eliot and has decided to take a more personal musical road, for me somewhat more lonely. WIth this solo-accoustic album, it brought the listener very close to the singer’s feelings, which resulted in her commercial and critical success. One year later, Cerulean Salt, was released, for me a completely superb album, that was created with the addition of a full band, but did not lose the intimacy desired by Waxahatchee. This year, the songwritter of Birmingham, Alabama continues her musical evolution and take it to the next level with Ivy Tripp.

Based in Holbrook, Long Island, the recording of this album took place in her apartment and I recently read the reason for this is simply that Crutchfield wanted to take her time and really collaborated with her multi-instrumentalist friends who participated fully in the construction of each musical piece. The result is a pop album, lulled by the indie 90s rock influences. Katie Crutchfield often sounds to loose herself through her guitar and expresses her pop and punk roots with a little bit of her madness and her originality.

All of the songs are mostly pretty short (around two minutes) and are divided between highly rhythmic pieces, and the other darker, more nostalgic and more intimate.

The album opens with Breathless, a dark progressive song, enhanced with its atmosphere, a moment between lightness and oppression. Yet the second piece, Under A Rock, moves us  toward a direction far more pop / punk, much more accessible to listeners. The whole album continues in this pop direction, between progressive rock and pop emotional until the track, Bonfire, the best song on the album in my opinion.  A mix of pop / punk, too dark to be folk, too bright to be progressive.

Behind her fragile voice, Crutchfield turns out to be a real melody conscensious builder, which lacks neither mind nor daring nature. Waxahatchee seems to have really grown up, matured, without losing her sensitivity and her own identity that will have most fans compare her to  P.J Harvey or Regina Spektor. If she still has to prove something to the musical industry, Ivy Tripp will put her up there with important solo albums of our generation.

I felt the evolution of the artist’s second album was her best but with this, it is confirmed For me,  there is no doubt about it, Waxahatchee has found her stride and with her broadened ventures into instrumentation, she keeps her nostalgia, her fragility, her madness, her personal touch, her sound indi rock 90s.

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toroArtist: Toro Y Moi

Album Title: What For?

Label: Carpark Records

Genre: Indie, Psychedelic, Pop

Moments Of: Your dad’s record collection

Stand Out: The Fight, Lilly

jameslondon_Matt_Hopkins_solidcolorDitching the chillwave electronic sounds for a more traditional, instrumental approach, South Carolina’s Toro Y Moi has certainly surprised many with the release of ‘What For?’. Experimenting with 70’s funk and psychedelic influences, Chaz proves that he can do much more than just danceable indie electronica. Having released the dance laden album ‘Michael’ last year under the moniker Les Sins, perhaps he has gotten all of the club music out of his system. Either way, there’s no denying this artists wide array of talent.

Well, I gotta say, I didn’t see this one coming. Comparing ‘What For?’ to Toro Y Moi’s last effort, ‘Anything in Return’ is like comparing apples and oranges. Since his humble bedroom beginnings, Chaz Bundick has mostly been a ‘chillwave’ producer, though the term is a little out-dated these days. Stripping back the electronics for the full band instrumentals, ‘What For?’ is a completely different animal altogether.

Opening with the sounds of some fast cars speeding by, ‘What You Want’ then bursts into a full on, 70’s inspired rock song. This was the point that I had to double check that I was listening to the right artist. When you accept that this is what the album is going to be, it becomes enjoyable, but that might be easier said than done for the Toro Y Moi purists out there.

Following on is ‘Buffalo’, continuing to draw on rich 70’s inspired funk rock, it’s an absolute delight. The strangest part of it is hearing all of these classic timbres with such modern production. At times you’ll wonder if it works, but becoming acclimatised to it will convince you otherwise. ‘The Fight’ is a laid back, cruiser of a song with some beautiful piano and guitar work throughout, showcasing some immensely gorgeous melodies.

‘Empty Nesters’ is a nostalgic, poppy number that bursts into some sweet, sweet 70’s riffiage and synths. It’s a real treat that is sure to win some new fans at any number of summer festivals coming up. The album radiates this warm, summery vibe that’s coordinated well with the transition into summer in the US. Unfortunately, we’ll just have to listen to it in front of our heaters.

Standout track ‘Lilly’ sounds exactly like something that ‘Animals’ era Pink Floyd would put out. Its smooth, funky synths and wah’d out guitars are just as effective as a time machine, the only difference is the slick, modern production.

https://soundcloud.com/carparkrecords/toro-y-moi-empty-nesters

Once you overcome the change of direction that Toro Y Moi has taken and listen to the music for what it is, that’s when you will get the most out of ‘What For?’ Some might find the traditional approach off putting, but to be fair, the natural progression over his past few albums should have hinted that it would eventually come to something different. I do miss the dancier days of tracks like ‘Rose Quartz’, but can see the beauty in what he’s aiming for here. The introduction of the 70’s-esque rock sounds coupled with the musical vibes that we’ve all grown to love him for is a pleasant change, but you may need to give it some time. It wasn’t until after a few listens that I let go of the past and embraced the new. Definitely worth a look.

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