Every band’s tour van should just come with instructions on the side, like the bottles of shampoo too few of them actually use. Rehearse, write, record, release, tour forever, come home, get your day job back, repeat. Waldo Witt had put himself through that wringer many times with his Austin psych-rock / 80s retro 4-piece Toma and had to switch it up. A move from one indie-rock Mecca to another made sense. An extended, roundabout road trip, after his move to Chapel Hill, turned out to be an epic Hero’s Journey. A lot of personal transformation happened behind the wheel of that van, and a whole lot of entirely different new music was born in its mobile studio. With the kind of musical transformation he had just undergone, a solo record just felt right, and “Crystal Ball” is the second single off that record. That record, Randall, is named after that van. And if calling his van “Randall” doesn’t make you fall instantly in love with Waldo Witt, we’ve got to ask if there’s even a heart beating inside that chest of yours.
If taking a break and going solo after being in the same band for ten years, and moving across the country all in the same breath had a theme song, this might be it. It’s clear from his lyrics that Witt knew what he was up against: the uncertainty, the self-doubt, the dangerous spot he’d put his career in. Spoiler: it paid off. “Crystal Ball” is a rewarding risk-taker, a move into more electronic territory with a blissed-out pop reverie that recalls the lofty light/dark psych of Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, or late-era MGMT. Witt’s also paid close attention to the hey-you’re-not-alone songwriting sensibilities of Tears For Fears, as well as their penchant for hooky, cathartic anthems. It’s got that uplifting swing and otherworldly introspection of everyone’s favorite Flaming Lips tracks.
Footloose. The Breakfast Club. “Crystal Ball.” This is your classic 80’s dance montage with one big difference: Waldo Witt does not have the moves. This is a problem because he’s training for something significant. He scowls into the wall mirrors in dance studios, hoping some of that professionalism might rub off. He takes his dance drills up into the mountains, in the hopes that with majestic beauty comes inspiration. Finally, desperate for a breakthrough, he lands somewhere in between the two: the suburban basketball court. Fresh air mixes with the tang of big-dream sweat, and suddenly, before him appears… a shaman? Bedecked in fine robes and jewelry, his face hidden by a ceremonial mask and towering headdress, he comes bearing the gift of groove to our frustrated hero. All is not lost. Or is it? Check out the video for the main event Witt’s been gearing up for, and prepare yourself — the guy is one of the few among us who can pull off a dazzling white suit.