Waxahatchee – Great Thunder

Moon above Tacoma

Waxahatchee played in Tacoma at Alma Mater/Fawcett Hall the other night, with Bonny Doon opening and later serving as her backing band. It was a wonderful show, and both acts brought a lot of energy and charisma to Tacoma’s newest (maybe best) concert venue.

Bonny Doon have a pretty laidback and pleasant vibe. Their music felt very affirming and sort of emotionally straightforward. Bonny Doon is also one of the only bands I’ve ever heard who could reasonably claim to be working in the same vein as my beloved Kingsbury Manx—turning out low-key beautiful songs that end up sticking with you longer than you’d think at first blush. Their set was fun and lively, and then they basically did a wardrobe change and came out to be Waxahatchee’s backing band.

[BUY Longwave]

This was the third time I’ve seen Waxahatchee (each time has been in a different state, weirdly). Katie Crutchfield’s set this time was a little more subdued than I’ve seen in the past and she seemed to lean a little more into the country and folky side of her songs this time around—the stuff from Out in the Storm was quieter and stretched out. She played at least one new song (that sounded fantastic), and played a couple tunes from the Great Thunder EP, which I hadn’t listened to at all. Some of those songs were familiar from their original release, but the way she played them live was so stunning—“Take So Much,” in particular, was incredible. The song seems (to me) like it’s about serving as a kind of unconditional support for a loved one who’s experiencing frustration and disappointment, and the way Crutchfield sings those lines, “Take it out on me, baby,” is gorgeous and haunting.

[BUY Great Thunder]

Golden Daze – Simpatico, Broken Social Scene – Let’s Try the After Vol. 1, NOV3L – NOVEL

Yahya ibn Mahmud al-Wasiti illustration from Maqamat

Press play and feel that warm bristling sensation flood your brain and body. Music that’s both familiar and foreign. Fleeting feelings and memories flash in your mind, half-appearing and not, quantum-level shithousery. A new type of feathered guitar, that evolved, bird-from-dinosaur style, from the old guitars. Echoes and allusions, you think Real Estate, Beach House. A sighing sort of supplication. Old houses’ window seats blasted with sun. A whole album of bright melodies and sweet and easy tunes.

[BUY Simpatico]

Unbeatable. “Hug of Thunder” was one of my favorites of 2017, and this EP is a worthy follow-up to that album. It starts, like a lot of their records, with a mostly instrumental track as an intro, then launches into “Remember Me Young,” another instrumental song driven by tremolo-picked guitars, slabs of piano, synthesized bass, and ooh-and-ah vocals. The other three songs on the EP, “Boyfriends,” “1972,” and “All I Want” could sit comfortably on any of their albums, though I will say I keep coming back to “1972,” which has the same kind of right-here energy as something like “Shampoo Suicide” or “All to All.” This is an awesome EP and it’s always good to have more music from this band.

[BUY Let’s Try the After Vol. 1]

Caustic and imperious guitars, jumpy post-punk rhythms, lyrics delivered blankly in short declaratives. NOV3L have released their very good debut EP, “NOVEL,” on Flemish Eye, and it’s full of twitchy, high-energy songs. More than stuff like Gang of Four or the much beloved (by me at least) Women, NOV3L seem to be drawing some inspiration from the harsher aspects of bands like Orange Juice, or maybe Josef K (NOV3L show that same kind of stumbling momentum of songs like Josef K’s “Sorry for Laughing”). “To Whom It May Concern” is a staggeringly good song, and the rest of the EP shows the same kind of willingness to inhabit, modify, and bewilder familiar post-punk forms.