I'll make a boldly stupid statement: Americana is the refuge of the maturest songwriters. There seems to be wisdom in the slyly confident vocal delivery. The music will always sound a bit ancient, otherworldly as it tends to take the deepest breaths. I believe it provides a wide avenue for poignant lyrics such as what Katie Crutchfield offers from word "go" on her latest, Ivy Tripp; "If I were foolish I would chase a feeling I long ago let fade." "You see me how I wish I were, but I'm not trying to be seen." (Breathless).
Ivy Tripp gains a lot of charm from Crutchfield's decision to inject electronics into her compositions; every keystroke is sonically scrumptious. The end of '<' is an album highlight. It kinda turns into a controlled, chaotic guitar/drums breakdown, reminiscent of an Ornette Coleman tune. Of course, no down-home porch music would be complete without a dog(s) reference. Katie made sure to include some barking audio as the sole 3/4-timed song, 'Summer of Love' finishes. Ivy Tripp may be a 2015 sleeper but not much is sweeter than waking up to the similar, lovely voices of either Crutchfield sister.
The Verdict: 3 Bedpans
Jacco Gardner knows how to pick album titles. His first LP was playfully-titled Cabinet of Curiosities and his latest is the equally excellently-titled, Hypnophobia. Not only do his album titles (however superfluous) continue to impress, but he continues to refine his baroque-psych formula. 2015's Jacco Gardner sounds much less stilted than that of 2013.
While Cabinet could be respected for it's key and other string arrangements, Hynophobia adds a whole lot more up-front bass action. I can bob my head to most of these tunes. I much prefer my psych with more movement, as displayed here, as opposed to fancy compositions that ultimately feel flat when played without compelling baselines. Hopefully this minor but essential tweak sticks, and, for all future releases, Jacco stays true to this new path he's chosen to explore.
Gardner's (again, a name I just adore) skills as composer reach near genius levels on Hypnophobia. I can't wait for some inspired filmmaker to commission a score from this dude. His talent is poised to become as revered as Danny Elfman or Mark Mothersbaugh's.
The Verdict: 4 Bedpans
For a band with a single-syllable name, Krill can get pretty wordy. They chose to name their second album, A Distant Fist Unclenching and the first song on this album, "Phantom", contains this choice line: "What's the proper orientation of the world to my non-self?". Of course, as these trends go, it doesn't stop there. Thankfully, it never gets overbearing.
Krill are a tight-knit trio. They never get too crazy; never go for the aural assault approach. The most squally A Distant Fist gets is towards the very end of its longest song, "Tiger". The rest of the time, Krill employ nimble bass/drum movement accented by occasional guitar blasts or steady single-note ringing.
I won't get into the specifics discussed on A Distant Fist. It's more fun for someone to experience this album first-hand. I'll just write that the subject matter gets plenty weird on most of these tracks; and that, along with such frail, strained vocals, is what endears Krill to their listeners.
The Verdict: 3 Bedpans