Classic Album Review: Wavvves

Artist: Wavves
Full Title: Wavvves
Year: 2009
Label: Fat Possum
Tracks:
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-

Walkmen Song Reviews [LISBON!]

Band: The Walkmen
Album: Lisbon
Release: Fat Possum [9/2010]

1. “Juveniles” – Known in some circles as “Tragedy,” I’m just amazed by Hamilton’s delivery on the choruses. I, too, love the laid back, Caribbean-esque feel. What a great album opener! Grade: A+

2. “Angela Surf City” – This one is marked by Matt Barrick’s drumming. At least that’s what stands out to me. I do like this song — Hamilton is as passionate as ever — and how it, like “Blue” that follows soon, has an enormous explosion of instrumentation. Grade: A-

4. “Blue As Your Blood” – Known in some circles as “The Sky Above,” this builds up pretty good. The initial guitar plucks and percussion stay constant — as a good rhythm section usually does — throughout the duration of this tune. I got a feeling pretty early on that this thing was going to explode. Indeed, it does. There are some really nice intricacies toward the end of the song — like a subtle keyboard push and twangy guitar parts. Grade: A

8. “Woe Is You” – This one is comparable to “Tragedy” in how it sounds Caribbean. I really enjoy how it flows. The left panned keyboard sequence is cool at the end. Sorry, I can’t think of anything else to say! Grade: A

10. “While I Shovel the Snow” – A tad tad slow for my liking, but I’ve got to give praise to the lyrics. This one feels old — you know like Sun Records old. Leonard Cohen inspired as well. Tentatitvely I won’t give it the benefit of the doubt, but we’ll see by the time the entire record comes out. Grade: B+