Waxahatchee – Air

The voice behind Waxahatchee, that of Katie Crutchfield, spreads far and wide. Coming off her celebrated 2013 release Cerulean Salt, the announcement of his third LP, Ivy Tripp, set to release this April, was met with the album’s lead single “Air”. Obvious influences are met, down to the Kim Deal comparisons, with The Pixies, a stark, naked, reinterpretation of their radiant sound. Crutchfield’s voice is defiant and forthcoming, unashamed of his mistreatment to a lost love. “I left you out like a carton of milk” she declares as she reminisces of the past. Where the production, featuring riddled guitar riffs, rapidly segmented drum loops, and swelling keyboards, draws the listener in off first listen, it’s Crutchfield’s vocalization that lulls them to its completion, with dashes of lyrical poetry thrown in for good measure. It’s a brilliant blend of calming melodies, honest interpretations of nostalgic events, and emotional highs to match that make “Air” a memorable track. If it’s anything to go by, Ivy Tripp should be too.


Twerps – I Don’t Mind

Twerps always knew how to write a catchy tune; just listen to one of the best guitar-pop tunes of 2012 in “Work It Out”, but on their newest single “I Don’t Mind” the Melbourne quartet seems to have evolved past initial comparisons to Real Estate, or any number of jangly pop bands from the early days of this decade. “I Don’t Mind” is still very much based around rolling melodies and simple guitar licks, but it’s also more nuanced and fully formed, easily detected in the interplay and tone of each instrument, as well as in the subtle, idiosyncratic shifts between Marty Frawley’s dragging lethargic verses and the wonderful chorus sung by Julia Macfarlane. As already mentioned, the band recently signed to Merge Records and will be releasing a new LP titled Range Anxiety in the end of January.


Caribou – Can’t Do Without You


 I think the main appeal with Swim –  Caribou’s magnificent 2010 album  – was how Dan Snaith created electronic pop music that wasn’t constructed and arranged like electronic pop in any traditional sense. Undoubtedly, this had a lot to do with him spending the prior decade crafting albums that jumped from a wide set of styles and genres, often with a psych- prefix attached. In this respect, “Can’t Do Without You” – Snaith’s first release under the Caribou alias in four years – is possibly the first time he approaches a new song without any major alterations in sound or direction. Not a big surprise considering the success and impact of Swim – still, I’m not saying that “Can’t Do Without You” could’ve been lifted right of that album. The atmosphere here is warmer and less intimate, and if Swim was borne out of the desire to create “dance music that sounds like it’s made out of water”, then “Can’t Do Without You” is the sound of music splashing against rocks inside a cave.

With news that Caribou’s sixth album Our Love will feature Owen Pallett and Jessy Lanza amongst its collaborators surely means the finished album will sound more multicolored and kaleidoscopic, or as the bio depicts the new album as Caribou’s “most soulful record to date, chock-full of heartfelt lyrics and organic nature which cuts through bubbling synths and blissful euphoria of their synthetic construction”. We have to wait until October to hear the final result, but  in the meantime, “Can’t Do Without You” is no doubt a wisely chosen first single that serves a not-so-subtle reminder of everything that made Swim one of 2010’s true highlights.

Our Love is out October 6 in UK/EU and October 7 in US/Canada via Merge and  October 3 in Germany via City Slang.


Wye Oak – Glory


Early records from Wye Oak mined sullen textures blanketed by guitars and more “traditionally” layered instruments, hence their slicker and synthier sound on “The Tower” took me somewhat aback. But it also made me inclined towards the band in ways I haven’t before. Shelving guitars for synthesizers seems to be the scheme for many bands these days, still as opposed to countless others, this venture from the Baltimore duo feels – so far – unusually successful. As already could be felt during the early stages of their career, writing songs with a strong sense of melody seemed to come invariably easy for Wye Oak. But on “The Tower” and likewise on newest offering “Glory”, this trait is magnified and expressed with substantially more sanguine arrangements. In all fairness, “Glory” might not be as commencing as “The Tower”, but it’s the most melodiously outspoken music they’ve carved out this far.

Wye Oak’s new album Shriek is out April 28 via City Slang in UK/Europe and the day after in the US via Merge Records.


Wye Oak – The Tower


With a few exceptions, every successive release from Baltimore’s Wye Oak has sounded more polished than the one that came before. The duo’s latest, 2011’s Civilian, was hitherto their finest set of songs; perfectly balanced, neither to fuzzy nor to clean. Even so, their new single, “The Tower” is a strong departure from their former selves. Heavy on the synths and a bounce akin to “The Logical Song”, “The Tower” carries truckloads of warmth and pleasant harmonies. According to Jenn Wasner, one half of the duothere won’t be a single guitar lick on their upcoming record. Going by “The Tower” it might not be as a bad move as it sounds. The more I listen to this the more it makes sense. This is eye-catching stuff that I see myself listening to all year long.

Wye Oak’s new album Shriek is out April 28 via City Slang in UK/Europe and the day after in the US via Merge Records.