Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp – 2015

ivy tripp

If you’re looking for a record to kick you in the guts, have I found one for you. Katie Crutchfield is a singer-songwriter from Alabama, and she’s released several solo records under the name Waxahatchee. The most recent is named Ivy Tripp, and it’s an alternatingly tortuous and bubbly emotional roller coaster. This is the record for when “I don’t know what I’m doing” and “I know what I’m going to do” overlap.

Crutchfield’s lyrics are like a Rubik’s Cube: seemingly simple and colorful, but difficult to parse. Once you apply yourself, however, and start to think about the words as a whole, the puzzle starts to unlock. Some songs include only hints and suggestions, the specific being unnecessary to evoke the necessary emotion. These songs manage to encapsulate whole relationships in four minute time-spans, and they aren’t just the ballads of the heartbroken. There are songs for heartbreakers, home-wreckers, and those who don’t need another human in their lives.

“You look at me like I’m a rose

Singing a song that you don’t know

And you always walk so slow

If I was foolish I would chase

A feeling I long ago let fade

And we could be good for days”

Motion and stillness are constant motifs, with the unspoken question being: which is the right choice? This constant struggle between push and pull is stressful for most of us, and anxiety permeates most of these songs. Other emotions are tied together as well; “The Dirt” combines a brash confidence with the depression-tinged realization “I’m a basement brimming with nothing great”.

The songs are all over the place musically, with Crutchfield’s soulful voice and crushing lyrics as the only consistency. There is the almost-ambient slowness of “Breathless” followed by the more traditional pop-rock chords of “Under a Rock”, the manic chaos of a song entitled “<” before the light and breezy “Grey Hair”. There’s acoustic guitars and synthesizers and keyboards and tambourines; every musician involved played multiple instruments all over the record.

What manages to keep all of these songs together and make this album cohesive is the feeling, the emotion that binds them like some heartbreaking Force. This record exists for when you’re looking at someone and your heart beats faster at the same time that your breath gets more shallow, whatever the circumstance may be. If you’ve ever wanted music to simultaneously soothe you and leave you stricken, grab this album.

Pick up Ivy Tripp from Merge Records’ website, and check her out on Twitter and Facebook.


Under a Rock



There were so many good albums this year that I couldn’t make the decision to rank them, and I know that’s not the most important decision anyway, so this year’s best-of list is in groups with no internal order. This is the art I spent my cherished/wasted time consuming this year. Hope everybody’s upcoming year is full of growth.

Albums, Best of the Best:

Albums, Rest of the Best:

EPs, 7″s, Demos:

Reissues, Lost Albums

  • Tony FlaminioThe Grim Repair – from the head of the Failures’ Union, reissue of 2003 cd-R
  • Karen Dalton – 1966 – haunting voice and banjo recorded over porches and kitchen tables at her cabin in Boulder CO
  • Michael Hurley – Back Home with Drifting Woods – unreleased 1964 sessions from the freak folker and gorgeous yodeler
  • Jawbreaker – Bivouac – the glory

  • Padgett Powell – You & Me – nothing has to be as shitty as everything is; read this for energy
Reasons to Stay Alive Next Year
  • Drag the River, Lenny Lashley, Billy Bragg, Sebadoh,Tin Armor, and Failures’ Union full-lengths. Freakwater playing shows again.
Stay free,



Katie Crutchfield, under the name Waxahatchee, made an album during a snowstorm last winter. She dedicated it “to anyone who had woke up and realized their identity is blurry, has had to clumsily get to know themselves, has hit a bottom, has felt self-deprecating and vagrant, and to anyone who has ridden out a shitstorm.”

She called it American Weekend. She means “American Weekend” in the same wide way that Kurt Cobain means “Teen Spirit,” less social construct than natural phenomenon. This is a lo-fi masterpiece in the league of Lou Barlow and the Softies. We should consider it a descendent of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, or else temper it no lower than Essential Listening.

Waxahatchee – American Weekend
Waxahatchee – Catfish
Waxahatchee – Magic City Wholesale
Waxahatchee – Noccalula

Buy American Weekend on vinyl, CD, or digital from Don Giovanni Records. Buy it on iTunes. Buy it on Amazon. Waxahatchee on Facebook. Waxahatchee on Spotify. Visit Katie Crutchfield’s tumblr.