Waxahatchee

Out in the Storm

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What started as a home-recorded solo project for Alabama native Katie Crutchfield, Waxahatchee moved to Philadelphia and gradually expanded in terms of sound and assertiveness, a trend continued on LP number four, Out in the Storm. Contributing factors to its more muscular disposition include the fact that it was recorded in a studio and was co-produced by John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile), who encouraged Crutchfield and her band to capture much of it live as a group. That band also happens to include her sister and Merge labelmate Allison Crutchfield, Sleater-Kinney touring guitarist Katie Harkin, former P.S. Eliot bandmate Katherine Simonetti on bass, and Pinkwash's Ashley Arnwine on drums. Last but not least, the album also finds Crutchfield reflecting on a breakup that's provided fodder for prior releases, but here she's looking at it in the rearview mirror. The tone is that of "good riddance," but not without having been through some stuff. It opens with the churning guitars, feedback, and meaty hooks of "Never Been Wrong," which regrets putting energy into the art of arguing with an expert manipulator. Later, on the fuzz-reinforced "No Question," she refers to "An invisible race/We'll be in it 'til one of us dies." "Brass Beam" has a wearier Crutchfield singing "I don't want to fight/I just want to sing my songs and sleep through the night." She slows things down on tracks like "Recite Remorse," where organ tones are accompanied by more ornamental, atmospheric guitar. The more intimate "A Little More" and "Fade" rely on acoustic guitar, so it's not all rowdy, but it is all raw. She doesn't code her stories here -- there are references to diving into the Coosa River and a car trip to Brooklyn. With Crutchfield as forthright as ever and collaborators suited to drive home her position, Out in the Storm hits with as much strength as emotion.

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