While debating the new Midlake album on twitter I struck upon an interesting point of view from a fellow tweeter. He stated he “no longer listened to the reviews as one man’s rubbish is another man’s gold”
Intrinsically I was inclined to agree with him. Why should anyone listen to anyone’s opinion but their own? Why do we need anyone to tell us what to listen to?
I used to the read the NME because they wrote about bands I liked, back in the day i’d have trusted them. This week they gave the new Midlake album 3 out of 10. Metacritic (an excellent review compiling website if you haven’t seen it) suggests that the average review from all critics for Antiphon is 7.9 out of 10.
Why this discrepancy? After all aren’t music critics meant to go above personal opinion and tell you what is good and what isn’t? Well yes and no in the answer. Reviews are meant to be more than just opinion pieces but they’re all written with a context. NME is probably aimed largely at teenagers, and to be fair i’d be concerned if the youth of the today are all listening to soft-rock bands like Midlake. I want my teenagers with a hint of rebellion, a little punk rock spirit if you will, there’s plenty of time to find beauty in the subtly flowing prog-wonder when you’re older no?
So why read reviews? Why read my blog? We all need a little guiding hand, I can’t pretend I find all my bands by simply jumping randomly onto their websites and listening to everything there is, nobody’s got time. Reviews are meant to guide, inform and suggest they’re not meant to tell you what to listen to. I’m not telling you that you should listen to all the music I recommend to the world, run your own musical course, find what you want in whatever way you want, we don’t always take the straightest route.
Which brings me to todays post, Waxahatchee are a band I saw people reviewing months ago, the reviews made me interested enough to tune into a session on 6music and ultimately a charming personality and an intriguing list of influences are what sparked the interest. So how do we discover new music in the modern age? However we like, because we can…
Waxahatchee is the pseudonym of singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield. She was previously one half of P.S.Eliot with her twin sister Allison who’s now fronts Swearin’. Keeping it in the family they’ve been touring the UK together of late.
A rather wonderful mix of American Alt-Rock and more low key acoustic numbers. It’s largely just guitars and drums giving it a nice intimate feel. It’s reminiscent of a lot of early-2000s American Indie bands, and the fact Katie is a big fan of Rilo Kiley is no massive shock. For a more recent reference point it’s got something of Sharon Van Etten about it only Katie sounds more full of the energy of youth.
Katie’s from Brooklyn, is anyone in Brooklyn not in a really good band?
In session on Lauren Laverne’s show Katie said she’d been writing music for ten years, but the first Waxahatchee record (American Weekend) didn’t see the light of day until 2012 when it came out on Don Giovanni Records in the States, a second album (Cerulean Salt) followed this summer which was picked up by Wichita over here in the UK, and they’ve subsequently re-released American Weekend as well.
If you’re missing some of the angst of your youthful days this might just fill a hole that’s missing from your Saddle Creek filled record collection. These are wonderfully heart of sleeve, ernest songs and it’s a beautifully honest record. Cerulean Salt hints at an artist growing in public and becoming all the better for it. There’s an excellent variety to her songwriting from the acoustic “Bathtub” to the much grungier edge in new single “Misery over Dispute”.
The american twang to the vocals and emotive songwriting wont be for everyone. It can be a bit teenage in places so if you didn’t like early Bright Eyes or The Good Life you might not be pining for your youth in quite the same vein I am