Syphoning the spirit of Conor Oberst and Evan Dando – meet America’s newest anti-folk hero
My parents have this no-frills vacation home there,” says 25-year-old Katie Crutchfield of the remote Deep South getaway Waxahatchee Creek, where she recorded last year’s lo-fi, post-break-up bedroom-blues debut ‘American Weekend’. “There’s no internet and no cellphone service. It’s spooky at night, because you can’t see anything. If anything bad happened, it would take a long time for help to come.”
Rather than freaking out about the fact that things could turn totally Texas Chainsaw Massacre at any moment, Katie decided to go full hermit, locking herself away to write and record stunning but scared anti-folk anthems about “the clumsiness of being on your own for the first time in a long time”. Did her folks know what the hell she was up to in her room? “I don’t know if they did. I don’t think I knew I was recording an album!”
Katie returned to the Creek to record her second LP, the equally open-hearted, beautifully harrowing ‘Cerulean Salt’. Yet for some reason, the same crackly techniques didn’t fit the newer, gutsier material. It sounded “too raw and fuzzy”, so she returned to her communal punk residence in west Philadelphia to lay down a far slicker but just as awesome offering on the basement’s dirt floors.
The new album’s searingly honest lyrics mesh dreamily with Katie’s poignant variety of impassioned, scoured grunge pop. It’s music to emote to while chewing on the ripped sleeves of your flannel shirt, wondering why that dude with the Kurt Cobain hair and beat-up skateboard hasn’t called yet. From the moody melodics of ‘Peace And Quiet’ to the jagged riff-laden ‘Coast To Coast’, Katie wears her heart on those sleeves, as well as – in tattoo form – her love for her high-school heroes Rilo Kiley and The Beach Boys.
Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Katie also grew up listening to classic hillbilly ballads by the big-hearted and even bigger-haired likes of Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn. “I’m a really big country music fan. It’s some of the best music that there is,” she raves. “The women of that era wrote sad songs about men and it’s what I ended up doing, too.”
NEED TO KNOW
Based: West Philadelphia
For Fans Of: Cat Power, PJ Harvey
Buy it: ‘Cerulean Salt’ is set for release on July 1
Live: Waxahatchee support Tegan And Sara on their European tour in June and play a headline show at London’s
Shacklewell Arms on June 13
Believe it or not: Katie used to be in punk band PS Elliot with her twin sister, Allison. “I’ve considered starting a hardcore band in Philly,” she says