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Songs We Love: P.S. Eliot, 'Bear Named Otis (Demo Version)'

P.S. Eliot in 2009.
Courtesy of the artist
P.S. Eliot in 2009.

In less than a decade of recordings by Waxahatchee, Swearin', Bad Banana, P.S. Eliot and Great Thunder, Katie and Allison Crutchfield already have a consistently strong and sizable discography between them. They are singers, they are songwriters, they are instrumentalists, they are truth tellers. They are also open to sharing their process — how they have evolved not only as musicians, but also as people. That vulnerability is indicative of their generation, but the Crutchfield sisters are singularly able to reach down into something small and pull out an entire world. That's why 2007-2011 — a complete collection comprising their band P.S. Eliot's first demo, two full-length albums, a 7" and home recordings — is an endearing and timely portrait of a pop-punk band figuring things out in blasted chords and simple couplets.

In its original form on the Living In Squalor 7", "Bear Named Otis" is a squall of a pop song, barely held together by jangly guitar, Will Granger's sharp countermelody and Allison Crutchfield's exasperated and hard-hit drums. But on the home recording, with just Katie Crutchfield's voice and an acoustic guitar, the disarming "Bear Named Otis" becomes a raw connection blistered by time and distance and excuses. It's a long way from the songs she writes now as the ever-evolving Waxahatchee, but is indicative of a time when punks (particularly with acoustic guitars) burned the songwriting handbook to make something raw and honest. Multiple syllables are crammed into short phrases, power chords turn into open chords at will and Crutchfield screams "You won't let me stay" until the recording device nearly shorts out.

2007-2011 comes out Sept. 2 on Don Giovanni. P.S. Eliot will go on a short reunion tour starting Sept. 9. Watch the Crutchfield sisters on an episode of NPR Music's live cooking and music talk show, #WAXnEGGS.

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