Classic Album Review: Wavvves

Artist: Wavves
Full Title: Wavvves
Year: 2009
Label: Fat Possum
1) Rainbow Everywhere- 8
2) Beach Demon- 8/9
3) To the Dregs– 10 :)
4) Sun Opens My Eyes- 8
5) Gun In the Sun- 8
6) So Bored– 10
7) Goth Girls- 7/8
8) No Hope Kids– 10
9) Weed Demon- 9
10) California Goths- 9
11) Summer Goth- 9
12) Beach Goth- 6/7
13) Killer Punx, Scary Demons- 7
14) Surf Goth- 9

Comments: This record savagely raped my speakers. It just went in, did its thing, and then came back for some more. Seriously though, this album will fucking knock your teeth out and destroy your ear drums, especially if you blast it from a stero. If you listen to it on low volumes or from your ipod/computer, your ears should stay intact however. I first heard of Wavves about a year and half ago. Before hearing the music, my first impression was “this is just another whiny emo/teeny bopping angst group.” Boy, was I wrong! Looking at the titles: so many friggin suns, beaches, goths, demons, etc. I thought it was a joke. “No Hope Kids” sounded like a phrase a twelve year old would utter because his mom couldn’t take him to Newbury Comics that day. Haha, but as I said previously, I was totally wrong. Naturally, I didn’t just eschew them, I gave them a chance and I was blown away by how amazing the recordings were with such limited tools. They were sooooo damn catchy! I could tell Nathan had a true talent for songwriting. With all this being said, I didn’t “love” Wavves and I failed to listen to the first two LPs in their entireties, but I still tossed on some of my favve wavve tunes fairly frequently. Fast forward to June 2010. I hear King of the Beach and if you read this site you know how much we love that record (best of the year!), in any case, Wavves became one of my favorite bands (top ten). The songwriting was better, the production (though cleaner a shock for some perhaps) was greater/more adventerous, and overall the music was more mature. Since, becoming such a massive fan of the group, I decided to revisit their older material. Enter Wavvves. The album kicks off with the noisy, psychedelic “Rainbow Everywhere,” this smoothly transitions into the extremely loud “Beach Demon,” just a pure wall of noise and sets us up for what is to be expected on the rest of the record, both sonically and lyrically (Nathan yelps “going nowhere, going nowhere, going nowhere” this is teenage angst I can actually dig). Hell, if you can’t tolerate the sound of this song, then you might as well stop trying here, you little puss. The third track, “To the Dregs,” is easily my favorite Wavves number. This one truly showcases Nathan’s abilities as a songwriter. TTD is just a classic pop song, a burst of fun, unbelievably euphoric music, it’s almost anthemic. And to the critics out there, Nathan hollers “you see me, I don’t care!” The next few tracks (“Sun Opens My Eyes” and “Gun in the Sun”) continue the experimentation, but aren’t quite of the same quality as the first few songs. They are not bad though and the lo-fi recording still works quite well. Songs like “So Bored” and “No Hope Kids” are Wavves essentials and follow in the vain of “To the Dregs”: all three songs are undeniably powerful, as if we are being coerced to hear the emotion in them. Definitely my three favorite Wavves songs in general. On “So Bored,” Nathan hits an emotional tone, simply beyond the confides of a typical song, it’s unlike anything I can think of, with perhaps comparisons to similar “emotional” artists as Daniel Johnston, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash (particularly on “Hurt.”). SB exemplifies those great reverb drenched Wavves vocals. The rest of the LP features some kick ass rockers in “Summer Goth” and “California Goths, ” and “Weed Demon” is a fantastic, spacey-psychedlic number that just crawls under your skin and stays with you for a few days. Two tracks I’m not as fond of appear toward the end: “Beach Goth” and “Killer Punx, Scary Demons.” I like them, but not nearly as much as the others. I feel like they don’t bring anything new to the table to suck me in and captivate me. But, maybe with further eartime, I will favor them more. The final track “Surf Goth,” for me anyway, is very “unWavves.” I don’t know why, but it has this really dark underbelly to it, as if it could be featured in some Harmful Korine flick. I feel like I have to take a shower when I listen to it; this is precisely what fascinates me about it. A great closer for a great sophomore effort from Wavves. After hearing King, it has made me realize how invigorating Nathan’s songwriting has always been. For noise pop and lo-fi fans out there, you probably have already heard this, but if not, you have some serious homework to attend to. Not as harsh as the debut, Wavves and not as poppy/accessible as 2010’s King of the Beach, but without a doubt Wavvves stands proudly on top of my shelf of albums.

Grade: A-

Classic CD Review: Tim [1985]

The Replacements
Label: Sire Records

1. “Hold My Life” [A-]
2.  “I’ll Buy” [A-]
3. “On The Bus” – [A-]
4. “Dose of Thunder” – [B+]
5. “Waitress in the Sky” – [B+]
6. “Swingin Party” – [A-]
7. “Bastards of Young” – [A+]
8. “Lay It Down Clown” – [B+]
9. “Left Of The Dial” – [A+]
10. “Little Mascara” – [A]
11. “Here Comes A Regular” – [A+]

Comments: The A side of this classic — the first in a string of major label releases by the band — is full of semi-heavy jams that weren’t totally out of place in the mainstream ’80s rock climate. It’s the lighter ones that I prefer though. I guess starting with “Swingin Party” is a helluva a bottom half. Insta-classics include “Bastards of Young,” “Left of the Dial,” and “Here Comes A Regular.” What makes these three so good? Well they are all really distinct. I might be a little prejudice because I’ve been listening to them independently for a couple of years now, but I’ve got to say they all bring a lot to the table. “Little Mascara” is quite close to that kind of level. It’s the acoustic guitar in “Here Comes A Regular” that really tickles my fancy. What a progression, I tell ya.

Grade: A-

Classic CD Review: Nouns [2008]

Band: No Age
Label: Sub Pop

1. “Miner” – A
2. “Eraser” – A+
3. “Teen Creeps” – A++
4. “Things I Did When I Was Dead” – A
5. “Cappo” – A+
6. “Keechie” – A-
7. “Sleeper Hold” – A++
8. “Errand Boy” – A-
9. “Here Should Be My Home” – A++
10. “Impossible Bouquet” – A-
11. “Ripped Knees” – A++
12. “Brain Burner” – A++

Comments: Truly one of the more outstanding records that the 2000s saw. It exemplifies the power of a near-perfect meshing of raw punk, noise, and melodic pop. The first three songs all have their heavy moments and these heavy moments define this record. Even a softer, more atmospheric number like “Things I Did” serves as a terrific change of pace tune. No Age can pull this off so effectively. An even more ambient tune is “Keechie.” From reading KLYAM you guys have probably figured out ambient usually isn’t my thing, but meaningful and fitting ambiance is a rare art. No Age produces rare art. The five tunes that I gave A++’s too. Those are all-time favorite heavy hitters. Check ’em.

Grade: A (96)

Classic CD Review: The Rekoys [2003]

Band: The Recoys
Label: Troubleman Unlimited

1. “Song on the Paper Dolls” – A
2. “Shake Off Your Nerve” – A
3. “Over Your Shoulder” – A-
4. “That’s the Punchline” – A
5. “Blizzard of ’93” – A-
6. “Let’s Get Educated” – A
7. “Let You In” – A-
8. “Modern Art Museum” – A-
9. “Look Out Your Window” – A-
10. “Roy Orbison” – B
11. “Tribute: The Recoys” – A

Comments: As a big Walkmen fan, I’m impressed by the mere fact that Hamilton Leithauser was playing stuff this good when he was only 19 to 22 years old. You’ll be able to tell these guys had been playing in bands since middle school. Right off the bat, “Song of the Paper Dolls” is distinctively Hamilton. It’s clean garage/power pop — at least compared to most of the stuff I call that on this site. “Shake Off Your Nerve” has shakers and saxophones. It’s a dancer that’s more punk than most of anything that would end up coming out of The Walkmen catalog. Speaking of The Walkmen catalog, “Over Your Shoulder” starts a trend on this collection of tunes (The Recoys never released an LP) of “Walkmen” songs. “Over” has all the niceties that Leithauser and Bauer would wind up incorporating in their future band. Of course, “That’s the Punchline” and “Blizzard of ’93” (renamed “Blizzard of ’96) wound up on the Walkmen’s debut full-length Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone. This has nothing to do with anything, but when Ham says “that’s a change of style” on “Punchline,” I realized that these songs actually do represent a change of style. “Blizzard” is sloppier and heavier on Rekoys. “Let’s Get Educated” is perfect garage rock revivalist material. It’s like the Strokes, but before the Strokes. Dirtier than the Strokes. Nice and dirty. “Modern Art Museum” is a passionate rocker. You can really hear it in Ham’s voice. “No one understands The Recoys” is sung on the very last song. Don’t worry, though, when their “ship comes in” you will understand them. What that means I don’t know! Fans of The Walkmen, definitely try to get your hands on this. You’ll appreciate this as a reference point in Hamilton Leithauser’s (and Pete Bauer’s, if you’re really looking) career. The Recoys broke up in 1999 after a three year stint.

Grade: A- (92)

Classic Review: Stanley Road [1995]

Artist: Paul Weller
Label: Go! Discs

1. “The Changingman” – A
2. “Porcelain Gods” – A-
3. “I Walk On Gilded Splinters” – B+
4. “You Do Something To Me” – A+
5. “Woodcutter’s Son” – B+
6. “Time Passes” – B+
7. “Stanley Road” – B+
8. “Broken Stones” – B
9. “Out of the Sinking” – A-
10. “Pink on White Walls” – B+
11. “Whirlpool’s End” – A+
12. “Wings of Speed”- A+

Comments: I consider this the Modfahjah’s serious, yet bittersweet phase. I’ve been listening to these songs on a fairly irregular basis since about the year 2000. Collectively, they’ve never struck me as worthwhile listens… up until very recently. After seeing Weller in a live setting, I realized that the guy isn’t that bad! No, no, even more shockingly…he’s good! Of course, the sound he’s maintained over his solo career is in a faraway land from punk rock or “mod” rock…whatever that was. On this release in particular, Weller is pretty much down for anything. An extended guitar solo here and there, a soft piano-rock unrequited love ballad, an inspirational oldies power-pop number, country sounding tunes, and other goodies. Even the songs that aren’t “great” tend to flow real well with this album as a whole. The core of this album is in “You Do Something to Me,” Weller’s solo magnum opus “Whirlpool’s End,” and, of course, the gospel piano track “Wings of Speed.” I remember listening to “Wings” when I was a wee lad. I hadn’t heard anything like it. Its gospel swagger (which was something I never would have termed it years ago) was captivating. I think I downloaded it on Napster or Kazaa. That’s how much impact it had on me. It’s still such a touching ditty.

Grade: A- (90)

Classic Review: Pinkerton [1996]

Band: Weezer
Label: DGC Records

1. “Tired of Sex” – A
2. “Getchoo” – A-
3. “No Other One” – B+
4. “Why Bother?” – A
5. “Across the Sea” – A
6. “The Good Life” – A
7. “El Scorcho” – A
8. “Pink Triangle” – A-
9. “Falling for You” – B
10. “Butterfly” – B

Comments: Blue vs. Pinkerton. Blue vs. Pinkerton. What’s the deal? Those two are the only albums that independent-minded fans of Weezer consider worthy of discussion. As you all know Weezer Blue is a heck of an album.  It’s loaded with indefatigable pop/rock numbers.  This record has been claimed to be ‘darker’ and more ‘raw’ and that’s relatively accurate. The rhythm guitar, as on Blue, is the main force behind the goodness on here. It’s not nearly as catchy as Blue (no standout tracks), but a large portion of it is awesome.

Grade: A- (91)

Classic Review: Locust Abortion Technician

Artist: Butthole Surfers
Full Title: Locust Abortion Technician
Year: 1987
Label: Touch and Go/Latin Buggerveil
1) Sweat Loaf– 9
2) Graveyard- 8
3) Pitsburg to Lebanon- 7/8
4) Weber- 5
5) Hay- 7/8
6) Human Cannonball- 8
7) U.S.S.A.- 8
8) The O-Men-7
9) Kuntz– 9
10) Graveyard- 8
11) 22 Going on 23- 8/9

: Early Butthole Surfers equals Music made for, by, and of heavy psychedelic drug use and Locust Abortion Technician is no exception. This is the pinnacle of the Buttholes’ highly experimental music. They dabble in Punk, Heavy Metal, Noise Rock, and definitely psychedlia. Without a doubt this is the group’s best offering up until then and since. I really dig the humor and chaos of “Sweat Loaf,” it is certainly a fantastic opener and really sets you up for what is to come. “Kuntz,” a remixing of an old Thai song and “22 Going On 23,” a disturbing/awkwardly amusing recount of a sexual assault case and its effects on the victim, round out my favorite tracks on this record. Overall, this is the kind of album that should be heard for its experimentation and the overall sound collage, oh and yeah, also for you and your pals to giggle and say “WTF?!!!” Turn it up at loud volumes, blast it as high as you can and freak out the whole neighborhood! In short, I feel like this serves better as a handbook for those who want to make experimental music, rather than an album you listen to again and again. With that being said, it is quite listenable and worthy of praise for it’s somewhat brave and unquestionably unique style. Basically, the Buttholes entered the studio and fumbled around with what they had (which was limited), took tons of acid (amongst other substances I can imagine) and ultimately created a really cool, trippy experience for all of us music lovers.

Grade: B