Waxahatchee & Ought
THe Royal American
Out in the Storm, Katie Crutchfield’s fourth album as Waxahatchee and her second release with Merge, is the blazing result of a woman reawakened. Her most autobiographical and honest album to date, Out in the Storm is a self-reflective anchor in the story of both her songwriting and her life. As Crutchfield prepared for the release of her Merge debut Ivy Tripp, she found herself depleted emotionally and professionally amidst the dissolution of a noxious relationship. “Ivy Tripp doesn’t really have any resolution. It’s a lot of beating around the bush, and superficially trying to see my life clearly, but just barely scratching the surface. Out in the Storm digs into what I was going through without blinking. It’s a very honest record about a time in which I was not honest with myself.”
The album was tracked at Miner Street Recordings in Philadelphia with John Agnello, a producer, recording engineer, and mixer known for working with some of the most iconic musicians of the last 25 years, including Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. Agnello and Crutchfield worked together for most of December 2016, along with the band: sister Allison Crutchfield on keyboards and percussion, Katherine Simonetti on bass, and Ashley Arnwine on drums; Katie Harkin, touring guitarist with Sleater-Kinney, also contributed lead guitar. At Agnello’s suggestion, the group recorded most of the music live to enhance their unity in a way that gives the album a fuller sound compared to past releases, resulting in one of Waxahatchee’s most guitar-driven releases to date.
Based in Montreal, Ought are a thrilling and adventurous quartet, delivering an earnest and exuberant post-punk: dextrous and exacting while bursting with propulsive and fluid energy, as indebted to Cap’n Jazz as to Talking Heads. The band shifts adeptly from sharp angles and stuttering counterpoint to softer edges and chiming flow, the instrumental interplay consistently whipsmart, supple and deceptively simple. Guitarist and vocalist Tim Darcy’s declarative, observational style ranges from stately, composed oratory to ragged, impassioned yelp, by turns wide-eyed and worried, but never submitting to cool irony or emotional detachment.
Ought’s April 2014 debut More Than Any Other Day brought the Montreal quartet sudden and universal critical acclaim, including high praise from Drowned in Sound, Exclaim, Rolling Stone, NME, and a Best New Music nod from Pitchfork. They have been riding a wave of furious productivity ever since, returning to the studio in the Spring of 2014 to re-record some updated versions of a couple of other older tunes – the resulting 4-song EP Once More With Feeling... hit store shelves October 28 2014 – and spending much of the past two years on the road, where their channeling of passion, politics and charisma consistently connects with and galvanizes each and every audience.
The band spent the first icy months of 2015 holed up in Montreal, writing and recording the new batch of songs that would see release that September as their sophomore LP, Sun Coming Down, once again met with widespread acclaim from critics and ecstatic audience reception on the road.