Monday, August 16, 2010

Wavves Make Lo-Fi Fun With King Of The Beach

WavvesWhen a performer has what can only be called a meltdown on stage — fighting with the drummer and thoroughly insulting the audience — his days in the music business are usually numbered.

That appeared to be the case with quirky singer/songwriter/guitarist Nathan Williams, whose erratic behavior shocked people in Spain. But Williams is resilient if not rebellious.

He apologized and re-emerged with a new lineup, new album, and new outlook for his band, Wavves. He still wants to make music his way, but is more open to ideas after finding the right guys to do it.

Are The Wavves Ready To Crash Down Success?

The Wavves really feels rounded out by the ace rhythm section of Billy Hayes and Stephen Pope, formerly with the late great Jay Reatard. These guys are like gold.

The unofficial fourth band member and a critical component to the band’s new sound is, without question, producer Dennis Herring. Herring has worked with Throwing Muses, Counting Crows, and Modest Mouse, among others. And, in his able hands, Wavves’ King of the Beach is not to be ignored. It’s a tremendous leap forward from the band’s first two experimental-ish releases, which were both self-titled.

The San Diego-based band describes its sound as 21st century surf music, but there’s some skate punk and post-acid influences thrown in for good measure. The result is surprisingly good.

Released on on the Fat Possum label on Aug. 3, King of the Beach is filled with bright melodies, tight rhythm, and Williams’ charming mix of angst, loneliness and rebellion. For a guy who doesn’t surf and is afraid of the ocean, Williams seems to have an instinctive feel for creating a surf vibe nonetheless. This is not the Beach Boys’ Surfin’ Safari.

The the lo-fi King of the Beach (from which the CD takes its name) isn't all there is. All of the tracks are fun, especially the trippy Post Acid, which features a killer chorus and Williams’ self-deprecating tone, and the noisy/fuzzy Super Soaker. Another notable is Baseball Cards for its killer bass and a cool psych sound.

However, I could do without the silly adolescence of Neon Balloon. I love helium as much as the next person, but c'mon.

Williams isn’t the best songwriter out there, but King of the Beach shows improvement. It's a new start for Williams and leaps far beyond his songs on the band’s 2009 self-titled CD. His lonely guy vibe and angst reminds me a bit of Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes).

The Wavves King Of The Beach Bangs 4.9 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

The Wavves may have a future yet, as long as Williams can keep his shit together. They are currently on tour throughout the U.S. and seem to be having fun without flare-ups while they do it. They recently sold out in New York and keep their fans nicely updated on Facebook.

King of the Beach is up at iTunes. You can also find King of the Beach at Amazon. You might also want to check out the mayhem shots from the Bowery Ballroom.
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