By Kristy Guilbault
When Atlanta’s own Tim Sweetwood put on the first Shaky Knees festival in 2013, he wasn’t sure what he was getting himself into. Sweetwood wasn’t looking to create a mega-corporate event like Coachella or Bonnaroo, yet, five years later, the regional-focused passion project has flourished into a three-day phenomenon, complete with a national festival badge.
And while we’re all aware of the heavy-hitters like Fleet Foxes, Courtney Barnett and the National, it’s easy to gloss over the bands listed in small fonts at the bottom of lineup posters. Over the next week, we’ll magnify the fine print of Shaky Knees, with interviews and highlights of artists you won’t want to miss at this year’s fest.
»»» Fri., May 4 «««
Sunsets, surfing and stars typically come to mind when conjuring quintessential California images, and while a tambourine and heavily reverberated guitar open L.A. Witch’s debut album, don’t let them fool you: this trio prefers the punked out side of the Golden State.
Sade Sanchez (vocals, guitar), Irita Pai (bass) and Ellie English (drums) toured non-stop for three years – sporadically releasing songs on limited edition singles – before finally recording a proper debut. With sultry yet ominous vocals, the self-titled LP is a bullish reminder that all that glitters isn’t gold.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever deliver energetic rock with confident hooks and wry wit. The “tough pop” five-piece blindsided the music industry in 2015 with their critically and commercially acclaimed debut single “Clean Slate.” Two successful EPs – Talk Tight (2016) and The French Press (2017) – quickly followed, leading up to Rolling Blackouts C.F.’s forthcoming full-length, Hope Downs.
The inaugural album, due out June 15 via Sub Pop, receives its title from an open cut mine in the middle of the Aussies’ homeland. “The album title...refers to the feeling of standing at the edge of the void of the big unknown, and finding something to hold on to,” the band explains in a press release. “It’s a record that focuses on finding the bright spots at a time when cynicism all too often feels like the natural state.”
Katie Crutchfield’s solo project evokes a glowing sense of home, from her intimate lyrics to the moniker Waxahatchee itself, which is named after a creek near her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Crutchfield's unrefined acoustic arrangements swiftly pull listeners into her poignant chronicles of self-discovery and new beginnings.
Waxahatchee’s critically acclaimed fourth LP, Out in the Storm, opens with a scathing dissection of toxic masculinity and the arrogance that often comes with it: “You walk around like/It's your god-given right/And you love being right/You've never been wrong.” Out in the Storm is a triumphant breakup album that celebrates rising from the ashes of a destructive relationship with sharp wisdom and indelible hooks.