Saturday, September 3, 2011
Wavves - King of the Beach
The best show I have seen this year took place at the Echoplex in Los Angeles, California (Silver Lake and Echo Park area). For those not familiar with The Echo and Echoplex, you are missing out. Both music clubs predominantly highlight great independent bands and showcase amazing artists you need to know. Back on May 10 I saw a spectacular music bill featuring Andrew W.K., hardcore punk band Trash Talk and surf rock/indie band Wavves. Throughout the night all the music acts commented what a “bizarre,” “unique” and “cool” lineup was performing. I couldn’t agree more.
The event was put on by Check Yo Ponytail 2, which describes itself as presenting an “open-genre, open-format approach to booking shows” and Check Yo Ponytail 2 certainly creates a unique atmosphere for audiences attending its shows. People are exposed to bands they would never normally see because they “aren’t their type of music” and as this show proved, even I became a fan of a music genre I’m not fond of (hardcore punk).
Thanks to Twitter I heard about this awesome event and bought my ticket immediately. As the date grew closer I soon realized it was the week during my last finals, but it didn’t matter. I was finally going to see Andrew W. K. and Wavves. I had no idea who any of the other artists were, but I was in for a real treat. The opening act was awful trying to imitate Blink 182-like stage antics before Trash Talk came on and truly kickstarted the show. I am not a fan of hardcore punk music, but HOLY $#!& they were amazing. Needless to say I ducked and dodged lots of stage diving and moshing, but still ended up getting kicked in the head twice during their set. Before the night was over I received only four kicks in the head and still managed to have a good time thanks to the great performances by Trash Talk, Wavves and Andrew W. K. despite going a little deaf during the night.
After seeing Wavves live I became an even bigger fan and think their album King of the Beach, their third album, is a great place to start.. The lineup of Wavves for King of the Beach was composed of Nathan Williams (lead singer, guitarist and keyboards), Stephen Pope (bass) and Billy Hayes (drums). Since the album, Billy Hayes has been replaced by Jacob Cooper on drums. Stephen Pope and Billy Hayes were part of the backing band for the late and underrated Jay Reatard.
Additionally, Nathan Williams played vibraphone, drum machine, programming and additional percussion on King of the Beach. One of the great things about Wavves is they combine noise-rock, indie rock, lo-fi, pop punk and experimental rock to create a superb, sophisticated, yet simple surf rock sound all their own. If the Beach Boys, 1980s garage rock and noise pop were smashed together to create a band then that band would be Wavves.
King of the Beach kicks of with the titular song as the band begins a journey of pursuing an endless summer in a colorful, charismatic and creative concoction immediately delivered to you. “King of the Beach” is absolutely my favorite song off this album. The simple four chords utilized create a simple and perfect power-pop song with a sweet bassline and guitar hook over dominating drums accompanied by Williams’ wonderful voice.
The song starts off with “Let the sun burn my eyes/Let it burn my back/At the beach/In my dreams/But you still/You're never gonna stop me.” Without a doubt, “King of the Beach,” both the song and album, will be Wavves’ charming calling card. If there was more music like this being made by mainstream record companies then the “music business” would not be failing.
“Super Soaker” succeeds in delivering a hypnotizing and heated second song with lyrics such as “She won't listen/ My head's numb/ And I can't hear her/ Any clearer.” Whether it’s the noise-pop or the punk attitude, Wavves knows how to combine different musical elements and throw a knockout punch with each of their songs.
Laughter is a sweet sound serenading your senses that instantly makes you want to smile. “Idiot” starts out with laughter…“Laugh, I bet you laugh/ I bet you laugh right behind my back/ I won't ever die/ I'll go surfing in my mind.” Sure one can apologize for laughing, but this song is no joke and should be taken seriously.
Although at first listen “When Will You Come” seems out of place, the child-like charm of a nursery rhyme seems right up Wavves’ alley. No matter how loud and obnoxious or sweet and softly, Wavves delivers tremendous track after track.
There are very few times when I’m extremely jealous of a writer, but sometimes you read certain words and are completely blown away with how poignant they are. “Post Acid” is a perfect example. Williams’ echoes Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain angst with the genius opening lyrics “Misery/Will you comfort me? /In my time of need/Would you understand?” As the song says, “I’m just havin fun” and I couldn’t agree more. “King of the Beach” and “Post Acid” are easily the two top songs on this entire album. Depending on what day you ask me, I go back and forth between the two.
“Take on The World” is an awesome surfing song, the warped synth solidifies “Baseball Cards,” the infectious “Convertible Balloon” and “Green Eyes” are all good, but the album picks up again with “Mickey Mouse.” The variety showcased on this album is phenomenal. “Mickey Mouse” has killer lyrics like “Everything in the back of my brain/ Told me that I would be sick/ When I’m out there/ I never wanna leave home” and is extremely charming like a much more disturbed Beach Boys. Unfortunately, due to pressure from the Disney company the song is now very difficult to hear even though you can find fan-made YouTube clips. I strongly recommend you checking them all out!
My last song that I recommend is “Linus Spaceland,” which kicks off with a sweet opening bassline and is a perfect song showcasing Wavves’ garage rock/ noise pop/ surf rock sound. If you enjoy bands like Best Coast, Jay Reatard, Smith Westerns and No Age, then they are definitely up your alley. Wavves’ King of the Beach has that snarky punk attitude that made the early Green Day albums so great. It wouldn’t surprise me if people look back and consider King of the Beach an iconic, influential indie album.