by Eric Hill @surgeryradio
Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp (and) Hop Along – Painted Shut
When you’re in the (usually enviable) position of trying to uncover fresh new musics to pass along to friendly record shopping folks you develop a slight irritation towards nostalgia. In its most extreme form nostalgia can result in stagnancy, never wanting to progress beyond the music you loved in your teens and early twenties. Conversations about how there hasn’t been any good music since… the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, depending on the age of the speaker, abound. Commercial radio depends on this belief. For the records there is always great new music if you know where to look.
On the other hand nostalgia can’t help but exert some small pressure on your listening choices… even if they are new bands playing sounds that remind you of the good old days. While I enjoy the synth / hip hop / retro classic / hey ho folk modes that seem to dominate new music at the moment as much as the next guy (well maybe not AS much) I’ve been excited to hear some slight returns to the buzzy, catchy sounds of the mid-to-late nineties indie rock pop up here and there. The two bands that have most caught my ear lately are Waxahatchee and Hop Along.
Katie Crutchfield of Birmingham, Alabama’s Waxahatchee has one of those voices that immediately remind you creatures like Veruca Salt or Kim Deal (Pixies, Breeders) once roamed the earth. Their first couple of releases got them some critical ups, but their new one, Ivy Tripp, released recently by Merge Records, has a broader range of sounds without sacrificing the jangle bone that supports the project. A slightly countrified twang colours the Vaselines-style bash-em-outs, but there are some quiet and delicate moments to mix things up. No shortage of two minute miracles on this one.
Philadelphia’s Hop Along is a more direct sugar shot of (s)punky fun. Singer Frances Quinlan likes to push her voice to the edge of breaking, like a vintage Courtney Love without all the attendant ick that might carry. Musically the band pulls off the trick of sounding like they are doing something simple, but when you stop and analyze the layers (and there are many) you realize they’ve cracked how to splice the Nirvana and R.E.M. together successfully. Painted Shut is also their third album, but first for Saddle Creek.
So if you need something lively, organic, and a little grungy to put next to your PBR this summer, these two will not disappoint.