Saturday, 14 December 2013


pt. 3, enjoy

King Of The Beach, 2010

After a few tours, leaked tracks and a brief tease of a possible album ‘Babes’, a collaboration between Nathan Williams and Zach Hill- indie’s favourite drummer known for his erratic style of drumming (which coincides unusually well with Williams’ laidback style) and most notably known for math rock duo Hella and industrial hip hop group Death Grips, it was evident that the indie world’s demand for Wavves was at an all-time high. However, Nathan and Zach’s brief stint was short-lived and the duo’s anticipated album was cancelled.
However, the disappointment at the collab’s annulment was also short-lived; by November 2009 the Wavves line-up had been updated - following what fans and critics dub the “Primavera Meltdown” during their disastrous set at Spain's Primavera Sound Festival in 2009, whereby a combination of intoxication, difficult soundcheck, foul moods and growingly impatient crowd resulted in the pelting of shoes and bottles, the onstage resignation of pissed off drummer Ryan Ulsch, a resignation which, to uproarious applause from the audience, also featured the drummer pouring his beer over Nathan Williams head, and subsequently, the cancellation of their European tour. The new line-up consisted of drummer Billy Hayes and bassist Stephen Pope, formerly of the late Jay Reatard’s garage band; the new line-up sparked the hopes of a possible new album.

Those hopes were fulfilled when in August of 2010, their third album, ‘King of the Beach’ was released on Fat Possum Records. This new Wavves album displayed the most radical change compared to their last two albums, most notably in production: this was Wavves first studio-produced album; a ballsy move given the reputation their scuzzy DIY production had earned them. This album’s cleaner production, courtesy of Modest Mouse producer Dennis Herring, really brings a lot of clarity to the songs, accentuating the hooks and each component of the songs- punchy bass, huge drums and William’s trebly, maxed-out guitar and vocals shining through; ergo eliminating the issue the last two albums had and allowing the listener to distinguish each song instead of each one blending into a scuzzy, raspy haze. Although the album’s production method strayed from Wavves’ first two records, to the relief of Wavves fans- although cleaner, this album’s sound did not stray far from the unkempt noise pop, and experimentalist aesthetic they had come to expect of the SoCal band. Lyrically, Williams displays marginally more sophisticated songwriting, although the approach isn’t anything too artsy and ambiguous, there is power in its directness. KOTB still features the same coming-of-age themes of apathy and self-loathing that are prominent on the tracks that veer towards the 90s pop punk side of the Wavves spectrum – tracks such as ‘Idiot’, ‘Post Acid’ and ‘Take On The World’, as well as the Williams’ brighter, sunnier side, with constant references to going to the beach, (as if the album title wasn’t obvious enough) in the song ‘King of the Beach’, and smoking weed (think the THC-infused ‘Linus Spacehead’).

The album is home to the most all-out ballsy tracks such as ‘Green Eyes’, an anthem of self-loathing and apathy that is testament to Williams’ almost poetic bluntness in his songwriting, ‘Post Acid’ a straight up trippy ode to doing drugs and having fun; yet it also features a more varied style in the Wavves catalogue, with tracks ditching the whole “guitar, bass and drums” thing in favour of synthesizers and drum machines on the tracks ‘Mickey Mouse’, an anxiety-based almost orchestral track featuring a plethora of synthesized brass instruments; ‘Baseball Cards’, a swirling, hypnotizing track with phasing synths, ‘sha la las’ and finger snaps; and ‘When Will You Come’, although my least favourite track on the album, a more Beach Boys-influenced, breezy track which includes Williams’ falsetto vocals, bells and tambourine taps.

Overall, my favourite Wavves album, the most refined album at that point, and the one that definitely outlines Wavves’ “Blink-182 meets Beach Boys” aesthetic that is commonly associated with them and holds up even today.

Friday, 13 December 2013


part 2 of my series of wavves reviews, enjoy

‘Wavvves’, 2009

Their follow-up album, the aptly-titled ‘Wavvves’ was released in February of 2009 on less obscure independent label Fat Possum after being signed. At this point their internet buzz earned them a few spots on 2009 SXSW music festival. By now, drummer Ryan Ulsh was recruited for live shows. Despite this, the recording of this ‘Wavves’ successor was still a strictly one-man process, and the method for doing so remained the same as the debut: same terrible equipment, same terrible production quality, albeit not as extreme as the debut, but still the same relentless, don’t-give-a-fuck aesthetic that both conveys an effortlessly cool image and captured the attention of the lo-fi scene only a few months prior. The album is considerably more popular than their debut, and home to some of the more memorable tracks of Wavves’ early career: songs like the nonchalant ‘So Bored’, ‘No Hope Kids’ and ‘To The Dregs’ are a staple for any Wavves fan. Being the debut’s spiritual successor, ‘Wavvves’ still features the same combo of simple pop punk-esque songs and thick layers of reverberated, heavily-modulated, scuzzy lo-fi saturation the debut exhibited. Lyrically, there is little change from the debut, sporting Nathan Williams’ endearingly juvenile hooks about the recurring themes of apathy, weed, boredom, the beach and loneliness, accompanied by Nathans signature harmonising whoops and hollers. I can’t help but feel a unique balance of both dreariness of tracks like the percussion-less, almost mystifying track ‘Weed Demon’ and ‘How Are You’, and sunny, energetic melodies and riffs combined with the comparatively melancholic and ever-so-vague nature of the lyrics. However, its DIY production does call to attention some of the issues the debut had in terms of its production; the lo-fidelity and overall intentionally shitty production can potentially take away from the content of the album’s songs upon prolonged listening. Although this case is not as bad as the debut, songs begin to blend into each a barely-distinguishable drone of rasping, cheap over-modulation, feedback and fuzz. That aside, ‘Wavvves’ is definitely overall a more “refined”, and I use this term loosely, spiritual successor to the debut, and despite the eventual draining of the merciless distortion and feedback, definitely one of my personal favourites. Raw, uncompromising and effortlessly cool.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

WAVVES - DEBUT ALBUM REVIEW (in stores september 2008)

hey i know i'm about 5 years late or so but i did a short review on Wavves debut album, Wavves
it's an extract from my FIBLAR entry about Wavves due for Saturday, thought i'd post it, enjoy

‘Wavves’ (the debut album), 2008

‘Wavves’ (the album) was released on independent label Woodsist in September of 2008, (originally on cassette, but later on CD/LP format) - it was originally a one-man band with San Diegan 22-year old slacker Nathan Williams (under the name Wavves), recording his debut lo-fi album on a laptop computer in his parents’ garage during times of unemployment. Williams posted the album on his blog, Ghost Ramp, and generated a fair bit of hype throughout the blogosphere of the time, yet despite this, the album is perhaps the lesser-known in the Wavves catalogue- with few standout tracks in comparison to their later releases, one of them being the song ‘Wavves’ (that’s right: ‘Wavves’ by Wavves from the album ‘Wavves’). The album is an energetic, yet strangely, an almost-offhand flurry of simple but addictive guitar riffs and melodies soaked in layers of abrasive lo-fidelity distortion-y goodness. Featuring less than sophisticated and, in equal measure, difficult to decipher hooks revolving around weed, going to the beach, and boredom, this album could be deemed aesthetically pleasing to the adolescent and young adult demographic. Although the coarse lo-fi harshness of the majority throughout the album may seem a little grinding on the ears after a while and considered a turn-off to some listeners (Personally I agree - at times I feel like I really can’t listen to the album all the way through because of the sheer noise) the album also features some unexpected calm tracks halfway through (specifically ‘Vermin’) which are very soothing to the ears. Overall a diamond in the rough – simple, catchy, pop punk tracks with a strong, lovable slacker aesthetic to them- although not sophisticated, definitely fun to listen to; however the lo-fi distortion can really take away the pleasure of listening to it for prolonged amounts of time (not necessarily painful to the ears can potentially distract you and reduce the songs to a drone of over-modulation, but that might just be me.)