Monday, December 10, 2012

Waxahatchee, American Weekend, 2012

Golden Sunday Album Review

First things first.  CoolDaughter #1 had a two-day swim meet this weekend.  CoolMom took her on the first day, so CoolDaughter #2 and I spent a great day together.  On day 2, I had the duty of driving CD #1 to her meet.  In the last heat of the last race of the day, she took her event, the 50-yard breaststroke, achieving a "gold" NJ Junior Olympic-qualifying time.  I don't regret missing my run on either day.

CD #1's session yesterday was a little later than usual, so I did spend the morning listening to an album released way back at the beginning of 2012 on New Jersey's Don Giovanni Records.  American Weekend is a solo, lo-fi masterpiece by Waxahatchee, a.k.a. singer/songwriter Katie Crutchfield.  The record features Crutchfield accompanied mostly by her acoustic guitar, and its sound is reminiscent of the solo, home-recorded work of Lou Barlow and Paul Westerberg.

So many of the songs on American Weekend reference a relationship that never fully happens because of fear or caution that you get the feeling that the record is about a very specific event or person.  "Grass Stain" closes with the line "And I'll avoid you like the plague / because I can't give you what you want / I won't give you what you want."  On "Be Good," Crutchfield says, "You don't wanna be my boyfriend / and that's probably for the best / because that, that gets messy / and you will hurt me / or I'll disappear."  "Bathtub" finds Crutchfield sitting in the water with her guilt over the way she's treated someone -- "And I tell you not to love me / But I still kiss you when I want to."

American Weekend makes for a powerful, without being too heavy, thirty or so minutes.  The songwriting and the emotion in Crutchfield's voice combine to capture that feeling of being in your early twenties and hoping that you haven't just done something that's doomed you to being alone or unhappy.

Albums that come out early in the year often get forgotten in year-end tallies.  American Weekend deserves a spot on every year-end list this year, and it deserves to stay in your rotation for years to come.  I was in my early twenties during the heyday of American lo-fi in the 1990's.  American Weekend is a throwback to that time for me not only because of its sound, but also because of the overall feeling that Crutchfield has managed to harness with her songwriting.

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