“It’s an algorithmic dream date: Google “Cloud Nothings” or “Wavves” and in each case the other band is one of the top entries in the “people also search” field. The overlap is inevitable: two critically acclaimed indie rock bands that actually rock, ones that qualify as pop and punk but somehow not pop-punk. Yet, Wavves X Cloud Nothings represents a sudden intersection after the two artists have spent the past five years aiming in opposite directions. Dylan Baldi wants esteemed producers to act like P90x coaches, helping him shed the flabby baggage of his earliest recording for something meaner, leaner, and shredded, whereas Nathan Williams employs them like high-end makeup artists. You’d have to go back to 2009 for the last time Wavves and Cloud Nothings were functionally similar, or No Life For Mecan save you the trouble.
Before the turn of the decade, both bands were solo projects manufacturing confectionary nuggets about being young, bitter and bored, wrapped in metallic hiss—the equivalent of eating chocolates without removing the foil. There’s no obvious reason for either Baldi or Williams to be nostalgic for this period, as their careers have continued to evolve and prosper along with their music. Maybe they’re eager to revisit a time when their every move wasn’t subject to scrutiny, though slapping both of their highly recognizable brands on the cover doesn’t exactly lower expectations, despite the modest rollout.
Still, this album is the most effortless music either has produced in years, which ultimately serves as proof of how easy it is for both Baldi and Williams to write good songs and also the care it takes to make them great. There are solid hooks scattered all over No Life For Me, and they sound like they could’ve been knocked out in five minutes—each melodic note notches in the expected place over thrumming power chords and steady drums. The seven proper tracks are all opportunities to parse the fine difference between urgency and immediacy: much ofNo Life For Me happened without much noticeable struggle, but did it need to happen?
In the end, “Wavves X Cloud Nothings” manages to be misleading on numerous levels. It implies a full partnership or at least participation from both bands—this is essentially “Wavves feat. Dylan Baldi”, as it calls on Nathan’s brother Joel as a producer and his drummer Brian Hill, who is not Jayson Gerycz. Hill is a fine drummer but he’s not one of the few plus-value drummers in rock music, a guy who can singlehandedly change a band’s trajectory and take a song from an 8 to a 10. This might’ve reflected more on Baldi than Hill had the dreamy, drumless closer “Nothing Hurts” not been the LP’s highlight. However, “Come Down” and the title track are essentially Cloud Nothings deep cuts with a solid rhythm section that never pushes against Baldi’s vocals, never threatens any kind of chaos. It’s possible Hill could’ve provided these things had No Life For Me been the result of more protracted sessions, but you might come out of this record thinking Gerycz is somehow still underrated.
Moreover, the nominal “X” implies a factorial relationship between the two acts—maybe this could’ve been a muscling up of Wavves’ wiry surf-and-skate physique or the achromatic bleakness of Attack on Memory or Here and Nowhere Else given a suntan. Tilt that “X” 45 degrees and you’ve got a more accurate formula: This is more an example of addition, two artists with very similar writing styles piling on top of each other.
In fact, Williams and Baldi are virtually indistinguishable emotionally or sonically here. The same themes of intransigence, ennui, and self-pity that serve as the basis for nearly every one of their previous songs is shuffled and endlessly reworded, Wavves and Cloud Nothings lyrics turned into magnetic poetry tiles grabbed out of a bag. Their blunt admissions never sound insincere despite being shared and workshopped, just pro forma—”I’m such a fucking mess/ Don’t know at all how it’s gonna go,” “I feel it open up around me.” “Sometimes, you’ll find nothing ever comes down.”
Looking at the most recent, productive relationships between established songwriting entities—Run the Jewels, FFS, for example—there’s a provision of contrast, a clear quid pro quo where each party has something the other wants or needs. Whether or not there’s chemistry between Baldi and Williams, there’s no volatility. They don’t even sound like they’re having fun: the bummer attitude was a given, but neither is inspired to go beyond their own sonic boundaries, nor is there any sign of friendly one-upmanship, no indication that a truly great idea from these sessions wouldn’t be tucked away for private usage. That wouldn’t be much of an issue had this partnership reflected its low-key creative process by having Wavves X Cloud Nothings go by a different name or having the results given away as a freebie or just a lark. But No Life For Me is a 21-minute record with two instrumentals that costs $10—the same price you could pay for Attack on Memory or King of the Beach. Which is to say that Wavves X Cloud Nothings didn’t need to result in a good album to justify its existence, but No Life For Me did” (Pitchfork)
El quinto trabajo de la banda de Nathan Williams en realidad no nos sorprende lo más mínimo porque no se ha salido ni un milímetro de la fórmula que le ha encumbrado como uno de esos iconos Indie que de vez en cuando se asoman a las plataformas Major y a algún que otro medio de comunicación masivo de esos que se entretienen en cubrir eventos de moda o retratar vidas de adolescentes irreverentes en vez de volver a sus planteamientos musicales iniciales.
La monserga viene a cuento de contaros que V es un trabajo que no desentona en ningún momento y que nos muestra a un Williams inspirado, con esos estribillos instántaneos y esas canciones petardeantes que se adhieren a tu oído como goma de mascar. El envoltorio: el Pop abigarrado y con toques Punkies de siempre, guitarras distorsionadas y un sentido ácido del humor que continúa enganchando.
¿Para qué más?
“In July, Nathan Williams became the latest musician to show you can take the boy out of indie but you can’t take the indie out of the boy: He got in a fight with his major label. Williams uploaded “Way Too Much”, a single from his then-untitled new album, to SoundCloud, only to see Warner Bros. take it down. Without disclosing Warner’s motivation behind the takedown, he implied the label was threatening to sue him, and wrote, “Its so obnoxious to work tirelessly on something and then have a bunch of ppl who just see me as a money sign go and fuck it all up.”
On this, Warner was right: V is definitely not a record that’s going to make them a lot of money. That would require Williams writing the pop-punk crossover LP of his career—a little more Paramore, a little less Psychedelic Horseshit. Instead, what we have is an angry collection of songs more indebted to his recent collaboration with Cloud Nothings and the brute-force approach of his earlier releases, where punk catharsis was achieved by saying the same lyric over and over. (Say “I’m so bored” five times fast and you, in fact, will feel bored.)
V was inspired by a breakup, as well as the band’s hellaciously bad habits: 100 beers and two bottles of Jameson a night for the four-piece group, a period of “just drinking, straight drinking,” as Williams says in the album’s press materials. Accordingly, V sounds like a hangover. Every song starts somewhere dismal, and ends up somewhere that’s only a little hopeful—a process akin to the recovery from a hangover, when by the end you’re mostly happy not to be drooling and vomiting on yourself. Multiple tracks refer to headaches both physical and spiritual. Williams’ budget has outsized the lo-fi recordings he made his name with, but he hasn’t deviated much from the core formula. Though there’s room for easy-breezy surf rock (“Heavy Metal Detox”), insistent riffage (“Flamezesz”, “Pony”), and shuddering sounds ripped from a horror movie (“Redlead”), the predominant aesthetic is dirty and discordant backed by big harmonies—the sweet spot from which all memorable Wavves songs emerge.
It’s a faster record, too: V abandons Williams’ previous attempts at balladry, with all slow moments preceding the eventual assault. At times, the pace works to his advantage. Williams writes a killer hook, and it’s easy to hear crowds slamming along to the feel-bad vibes of “Heavy Metal Detox”, “All the Same”, “Way Too Much”, and “My Head Hurts”. A line like “I lost my job today, but it’s all the same” (“All the Same”) is delivered much more happily than “It gets better” (“Pony”), a reminder that he’s better reveling in angst than trying to convince us it doesn’t matter.
When he leans into his ennui, V achieves momentarily thrilling peaks. Williams is a child of singers like Billie Joe Armstrong and Tom DeLonge, pop-punk brats great at sounding snotty next to a massive chorus. The best songs remind you of his keen ability for penning sonically fractured, melodically appealing “woe-is-me” anthems that won’t bruise you too badly in the pit. (The best songs were written with the other members of the band, too, suggesting a necessary camaraderie.)
Still, V is a slight regression from the subtle growth he showed on 2013’s Afraid of Heights. Songs like “Demon to Lean On” and “Cop” weren’t just excellent songs—they showed the crystallization of the Wavves project into something mature, a word that’s rarely been used to describe Williams or his music. V will make you think he’s lapsed back to his #worstbehavior. Take a characteristic line like “Everything sucks if you don’t get your way” from “Tarantula”—it’s like he fell through a portal from 2009, and is back to playing the perpetual brat. V is a perfectly capable record, one that showcases what we’ve come to expect—and in many cases, enjoy—from Williams and his band. Even so, you wonder where else they might have gone” (Pitchfork)
Si algo nos enseñó el Nevermind de Nirvana allá por 1991 es que una banda independiente puede pasar a jugar las Major Leagues sin temor a perder todo su empaque ni un gramo de energía. Si el responsable sonoro de la obra maestra de Kurt Kovain fue Butch Vig, el productor del Afraid of Heights de Wavves es John Hill, un tipo que ha trabajado con gentes del pelaje de Christina Aguilera, Rihanna o Shakira.
Pero el caso es que Afraid of Heights suena como un tiro, y Wavves, aunque han perdido parte de su frescura inicial y sobre todo de ciertas capas de distorsión, mantienen toda su energía.
Evidentemente, no pretendo comparar uno y otro disco, pero no se me ocurre un antecedente mejor para establecer una similitud entre las carreras de una y otra banda. Éste es el disco “de madurez” de Wavves y aquel fue el disco de confirmación de Nirvana.
Aunque no todo es Nirvana en este disco. Hay huellas (evidentes) de Weezer (Afraid of heights) y su álbum azul, o de Green Day. Su contundencia es brutal desde el primer corte: Sail to the sun, y vuelve y vuelve a aparecer durante todo el disco en torno a cortes como Gimme a knife, Demon to lean on, Lunge forward, Paranoid, Beat me up…
Una cosa es cierta: Wavves es un grupo fiable, al igual que lo son bandas como Thee Oh Sees o Jeff the Brotherhood. Se han mantenido fieles a su fórmula original: playeo, diversión, mala baba y un sonido característicamente original. Y esa fórmula continúa dando buenos resultados, pese a que a muchos les parezca ya caduca. Personalmente, me continúan enganchando sus temas.
“Williams’ lyrics are still dripping with self-loathing. Life Sux’s “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl” drew sneers based on the title alone, but the sentiment never seemed explicitly careerist; at some point, you’d have to assume that this guy would rather do anything else rather than continue to address his own personal insufficiencies. Here, “Dog” and “Beat Me Up” deal with subservience in relationships, while the sprightly “Lunge Forward” ends with a wish for the end of humanity. There’s talk of graves, death, bruises, and the eventuality of being alone. The negativity is sometimes so pronounced it’s almost funny: “Gimme a Knife” closes with, “I loved you, Jesus/ You raped the world/ I feel defeated/ Guess I’ll go surf.”
The album’s most enjoyably surprising moment arrives when he turns his attention outward. “Cop” is a love song, albeit a strange one: it’s written from the perspective of the gay lover of protagonist John, who’s just killed a policeman. “Sit back and relax, John, just go home and quickly wash your hair/ Lay back in my arms,” Williams sweetly sings, backed by a distant acoustic shuffle reminiscent of Jay Reatard‘s cover of Chris Knox’s “Turn Down the Shades”. Some strings and stray whistling enter, and the song swells into a big, beatific wash of light before the hook comes in again. It is, without doubt, the most lovely and affecting piece of music Williams has written” (Pitchfork)
En TJB no nos hemos vuelto locos ni nos hemos equivocado con este nuevo tema de Wavves cuando ayer mismo os posteábamos otro tema editado por Nathan en su blog. Esta vez el medio elegido ha sido su Twitter, y este es otro de esos temas que al chico le ha dado por regalar. Evidentemente, a los que nos gustó su primer álbum estamos de enhorabuena, aunque este Horse shoes no está demasiado a la altura. En su grabación ha colaborado Zach Hill a la batería. Supongo que si sigue a este ritmo, en breve aparecerá otro nuevo tema, aunque personalmente pienso que llevar el ritmo de edición de Deerhunter no es nada bueno…
“Wavves have been busy lately, touring, working on their own strain of weed, and releasing new music for free. According to Spin, Wavves’ Nathan Williams is planning on releasing more on his own, and will turn some of them into 7-inches sometime in the future. He released his ode to time-wasting, “TV Luv Song,” last week, and “Horse Shoes” came via his Twitter account today. “Horse Shoes” features Zach Hill on drums” (stereogum.com)
Otro de los personajes que no para es Natan Williams, líder de Wavves. Primero se nos ha enamorado de Bethany Cosentino (¡¡maldito!!), se han embarcado en una gira conjunta que les lleva también con No Joy. Sus discos están teniendo bastante éxito en Japón, y para acompañar a su tremendo King of the beach, ha publicado en su blog este animoso tema titulado Mutant, que según sus propias palabras, “en algún momento puede ser un7”. Total, un buen tema que echarse a la boca si eres uno de los seguidores (como yo) que Wavves ha conseguido cosechar este soleado verano del 2010. Puedes descargarte el tema de forma gratuita y legal pinchando en el enlace.
“Nathan Williams recently posted a download of a song called “Mutant” on his blog. As he put it: “[‘Mutant’] might be on a 7″ soon. It’s a b side on the japanese pressing of king of the beach.” When we posted Best Coast’s Fallon performance, we mentioned another single, the “Summer Is Forever” split, featuring BC’s “When You Wake Up” and Wavves’s “Stained Glass (Won’t You Let Me Into Yr Heart).” Listen to Wavves “Summer” contribution after grabbing “Mutant” (stereogum.com)
A estas alturas del verano me estaba planteando ya no postear este tercer disco de Wavves, pero creo que todos los que leéis el blog os merecéis que aparezca una reseña de uno de los discos del año. El proyecto de Nathan Williams va tomando forma cada vez con más configuración de banda (ha reclutado a la que fuera banda de acompañamiento del malogrado Jay Reatard), y sus discos cada vez son algo más que un mero entretenimiento para skeaters furibundos. King of the Beach es un gran disco, con variedad de tonalidades. Destacable ante todo es su faceta más iracunda y bestia: King of the Beach, Super soaker, Idiot, Post acid, Linus Spacehead… son trallazos del mejor Pop-Punk a la manera de hacer las cosas en Los Ángeles, con luminosidad poppera y con el personal estilo de Williams, mezclando el Lo-Fi con el Post-Punk: Brillante. Por otro lado, nos encontramos con temas Pop que no llevan consigo esa adrenalina con acné: Take on the world, Convertible balloon, Green eyes, Baby say goodbye, son cortes mucho más calmados, cercanos al Indie-Pop de toda la vida. Y por último, nos encontramos con tres temas que son algo así como la vuelta a la infancia de este californiano con pinta de post-adolescente: When will you come, Mickey Mouse y Baseball cards, tres temas en los que la influencia de los Beach Boys es más que latente, pero que son temas auténticamente enternecedores, particularmente When will you come, que más parece una nana que un tema de Pop, pero que tiene un sonido realmente entrañable. Disco, en definitiva, más que aprovechable, y que pasa a formar parte de nuestros favoritos del año, y supongo que también de los de muchos de vosotros.
“The first time we covered Wavves was two years ago in The Outsiders, where Williams’ project was included and spotlighted for a specific non-outsider-y reason. Basically, he nailed every aspect of the zeitgeist/was a buzz-band shoe-in:
This week I’m giving the entire spotlight to Wavves, the one-man project of 22-year-old San Diego-based Nathan Williams partly because he makes fuzzy, loopy 4-track bedroom skate-punk/noise-pop, but also because he seems like he’s ready to explode from the starter gate with two upcoming records and a groundswell of buzz (and his own knack for melody, the current fascination with DIY culture, etc). Wavves could easily be discounted as No Age Jr., but when you spend time with his songs, they develop a very different, more insular feeling. It’s music that might have stayed “outside” even a couple of years ago, but at this point, you can already tell it’s on a “new big thing” verge.
Explode he did. That said, you can no longer use the No Age Jr. tag as successfully. And it’s harder to think of the work as insular now that he’s recording/writing with bassist Stephen Pope and drummer Billy Hayes, the guys who used to backup another up-and-down rocker, Jay Reatard. All that said, it’s refreshing to step back and look at Wavves music as music, not a sociological experiment.
King Of The Beach is a good record, a great summer soundtrack. Outside the title, there’s a song called “Super Soaker” and we get lyrics/sentiments touching on surfing, staying young forever, having fun, beach-side whistling, etc. There’s also plenty of self-loathing and depression (see “Take On The World,” “Green Eyes,” etc.), but it comes out in the sunniest way possible: Pair King with Best Coach’s Crazy For You, hot wire a convertible (there’s also “Convertible Balloon,” a song about carrying a balloon in a convertible), and go joyful road trip.
You’ve heard “Mickey Mouse,” “Post Acid,” and the title track. Elsewhere, the fuzz remains, but it’s been dialed back and folded into additional layers. The percussion is more varied. The textures offer more details and patterns. The songs feel fleshier, less solo: Wavves has become a real band, whch serves Williams’s knack for sunny, catchy melody. (Hayes wrote “Convertible Balloon” and “Baby Say Goodbye,” Pope the bass-heavy “Linus Spacehead.”)
Wavves’ anthems are generally infused with a touch of disengagement/”So Bored” ennui. Here, you get sonically downcast moments that go deeper with their emotions and introspection — the soaring, jingle-belled “When Will You Come” and similarly downcast, pretty standout “Baseball Cards” (this one also fits with “Mickey Mouse” in the Animal Collective-esque realm), and the lovesick “Green Eyes” (“I’m just not man enough… / My own friends hate me, but I don’t give a shit”) nail a melancholia he doesn’t quite tap on the first two records. The sequencing’s also stronger: Tunes fade in and out of each other and move cohesively toward the chirpy-then-phased 5-minute closer “Baby Say Goodbye.” You get 12 songs in just under 40 minutes. It feels shorter … in the way good albums do.
You have to hand it to Williams: Last year he was in danger of turning into a punchline — even his biggest supporters hung him out to dry — but instead of fading, he got himself a talented rhythm section, allowed them to contribute fully, and opted to work with a producer known for being a bit of a control freak. As Nathan notes in the press release:
When you’re not watering it down with a load of shit and reverb, it’s a lot harder to make a record, because you know every part is going to be hard perfectly. You can’t half-ass anything … A lot more effort went into this than with previous records.
Breaking a sweat may seem ironic or poseur-y considering the slacker nature of Williams’ aesthetic, but despite what they want you to think, the most interesting punks are often the ones who’ve worked the hardest. Extra effort doesn’t always pay off, Axl Rose, but this time it did: A lot of people will be eating crow after listening to King Of The Beach” (insound.com)