Release Date: Mar 17, 2009
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Wavves is the one-man noise-pop project of 22-year-old San Diegan Nathan Williams. Since his homemade cassettes and mpfree turbulence started damaging ears last year, Williams has become the focal point of what reads and feels like a maelstrom of chatter. Once something of a left-field mystery, the hype around him has built steadily throughout this young year.
When asked recently about his love of surf guitar, 22-year-old Wavves man Nathan Williams gave a wonderfully coherent answer: "Musically ... the Beach Boys ... I'm sorry, I don't understand the question, I'm really high right now." If you think the San Diegan's druggy demeanour sounds like a front, this sophomore album will convince you otherwise. Not just in titles like Weed Demon, but through Williams's obsession with disorientating, blissed-out noise.
A noise punk who applies Surf Wax U.S.A. liberally Although Wavves' song titles read like they're pulled from a Mad Libs with blanks like "Type of goth" and "Place where sand meets water," each fuzzy punk blast is far from formulaic. Wavvves, one-man-band Nathan Wiliams' follow-up to last year's self-titled debut, shows in umpteen foot-stomping melodies a mastery in the art of exploiting the tiniest variations on the themes of a twentysomething's loneliness and apathy.
Burying melodies in layers of distortion isn't anything new to rock 'n' roll. The Velvet Underground pioneered it in the '60s, punk rockers did it by necessity in the '70s, the Jesus and Mary Chain reinvented it in the '80s, My Bloody Valentine perfected it in the '90s. A simplified history of rock music is just a series of guys writing pop songs and then seeing how much noise they can inject into them.
It's easy to question the validity of the average bedroom geek furrowing away writing verse and one-liners about his dalliances (mostly failures, naturally) with the opposite sex, recreational drugs and adolescent pastimes. Yet Nathan Williams, aka Wavves, somehow manages to present a dose of credence to such humdrum everyday occurrences. Sure, there's always going to be the question mark over the one-dimensional approach both his musical (this is no-fi people) and lyrical wares tackle, but compare his artistry with troubadours from the other side of the Atlantic of a similar age (errr, Tom Clarke, The Metros) and he suddenly finds himself elevated to the most creative junior songwriter on the planet, no matter how indirectly.
It can be hard to determine the relevance of a record sometimes. Should it be judged as part of a larger whole (in which case how does one ever get past the enduring, astonishing beauty of, say, Meddle?) or as a speck in a moment or movement (making just about everything important, if only for a second)? Does it matter if it sounds like a collection of genres, meshed togethe? Or is the construction of the meshed product the key? Such are the questions that Wavves brings to the table. It’s hardly their fault.
It's easy to see why Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber lost his shit when he heard Wavves, the solo studio project of San Diego's Nathan Williams. Without a doubt this fuzz-covered noise-punk riff on surf pop sounds like the epitome of cool. It's urgent and lo-fi and easily stands out from the pack sonically. [rssbreak] Unfortunately, intriguing textures and an idiosyncratic vision aren't enough to make a great album.
It comes as no surprise that currently sitting atop the Billboard 200 chart are slick, mass-audience pop stars like Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx, Britney Spears, Keyshia Cole and the teenage country-pop sensation Taylor Swift. I’m not here to argue the musical merits of these acts, but simply to point out the production value mainstream America gravitates towards: pitch-perfect (a.k.a. auto-tuned), immaculately polished pop music.
We get it: Lo-fi's awesome, one-man bands are rad, but is a shirtless dude in his bedroom with a laptop, a four-track, and a shitload of consonants all it takes? San Diego's Wavves, aka 22-year-old Nathan Williams, is making fickle bloggers swoon. Williams knows his history, combining doo-wop with punk rock, and those layers of distortion on second album Wavvves sound pretty sweet after a day in the sun and three hits of cush. "Beach Demon" is corn-chip tasty, the apathy of "To the Dregs" rotates for days, and "So Bored" trips 1980s NYC.