Wavves – Afraid of Heights

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Rating: ★★★ · ·

Nathan Williams, better known as Wavves, may have crossed your radar at some point, be it through the media realm of the indie music world, or through his music; either way, Wavves is one of the most buzzed about bands. Back in 2010 he released a full length album, which seemed to take the buzz to a whole new level and his relationship with Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino made for his place as the title within his 2010 release: King of the Beach. Now that it’s been a few years and the buzz has died down some, will Nathan Williams come back swinging from the fade?

The answer isn’t so straightforward, as this is decent album, but the honeymoon stage for fans may be long gone. Afraid of Heights begins with some tinkering instrumental, feeding the anticipation of audiences. The first track, “Sail to the Sun” bursts into life quickly, though, the guitar wailing along with Williams’ vocals, as he kicks straight into it. Fast paced and laden with lyrics classical to the California punk lifestyle that Wavves has always explores. It’s a short and sweet track, but reminds audiences that this guy knows how to rock.

Pushing onwards, you’ll find that it’s not all full speed ahead on Afraid of Heights. The second song, “Demon to Lean on” evokes a sound that reminds me of a grungier, wilder, Weezer, which isn’t a bad thing. Tempo slowed, you can focus on the details that Williams has to offer, which include small nuances within the verses. Other strong moments on this album include, “Dog,” which gives listeners a break from blasting guitars and offers a catchy chorus to sing along. Later on, “Cop,” continues this milder, less garage-rock style, with mini-builds inside of it to explode into choruses, but as on “Dog” there aren’t those waves of dominating electric guitar. Some fans may detest this, but Wavves may be gaining some new fans.

What works against Wavves on Afraid of Heights is time—the album just feels long. With songs that are so repetitive and similar to each other, it seems like a few could have been cut from the track list that would have simplified the album and made for a snappier overall sound. Williams’ music gets a bit sluggish toward the end, and so did my interest, which may be the biggest problem for listeners on here.

Regardless of length, there are some excellent garage rock tunes on this album, which should feed the buzz just enough for Wavves.

New Jam from Wavves

Finally! I’ve got something on Nathan Williams! I’ve actually met Dave Grohl. Twice. Why does this matter you ask? Well, Nathan, and his band, Wavves, just released a new track tonight, “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl,” which will appear on the band’s Life Sux EP, which hits the stores on September 20th. Honestly, I wasn’t entirely convinced of Williams’ talent until the last year and a half or so, but he’s cleaned up the production, and included great hooks, like those you’ll find here.  His star was rising long ago, but I feel as if this will only continue if he progresses the way he’s been heading.  I mean, come on, just look at that face.  Put that with a track like this and you’re bound to be a huge success. Now, if only I can get that girl from Best Coast to be my girlfriend.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Wavves-I-Wanna-Meet-Dave-Grohl.mp3]

Download: Wavves – I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl [MP3]

Wavves – King of the Beach

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Remember when Wavves frontman Nathan Williams broke down in Spain?  We all expected the worst from that point on, but sometimes good things will rise out of the pit of despair.  This is precisely the case with King of the Beach, the newest album from the group, which now includes members of Jay Reatard.  It’s a much more confident Williams, and in that state of mind, his songs benefit greatly.

As soon as “King of the Beach” kicks in with it’s clattering drums and Williams vocals, you can see this band is on an entirely new path.  Production value has actually been placed into the recording, giving the vocals room to actually be successful.  There’s a summery bounce to the track, and the best part is, it sort of erases the feeling of lo-fi.  Who really wants to be pigeon-holed anyways?  Certainly not this Nathan Williams.

Sonic surprises abound in this record, though that might not necessarily apply to the drum section, which does show a bit of redundancy.  But, take “Linus Spacehead,” which features a bit of “oohs” throughout, in a nice little warm pitch to boot.  Throw that in the bag with “When Will You Come” and you have a couple of tracks that show Wavves are more than just that one trick pony.  The latter track is so gentle, and something about the vocals in the pseudo-chorus is really effective.  You shouldn’t be scared of this, however, if you were a long time fan of the group, as King of the Beach still has similar stylings to offer you, just with a different twist.

“Take on the World” has that traditional jangle pop, though the calmness in the song, rather than the spastic energy is what makes this far more successful than many of the tracks on Wavvves.  You’ll also find a little bit of the lo-fi tendency in “Mickey Mouse,” which probably isn’t the strongest song on the collection, but it does show that Williams isn’t likely to stray too far off from his roots altogether.  Tie it all together with a nice bow of “Post Acid,” the quick paced lightning bolt of jangling rhythm and pounding drums, and you have a more powerful version of the band formerly known as Wavves.

It’s great to see a lot of the progression from the band, indicating that in the future, we might expect even more powerful tracks, with cleverer hooks.  “Baby Say Goodbye” is probably as close to a pop track as you’d expect to associate with Williams and his entourage, but including it shows that the whole group is pushing their boundaries.  In the future, you never know what you’ll get with this bunch of rabble-rousers, but one thing you get from King of the Beach is that Wavves is actually maturing, growing their sound right before our eyes.  If they can toss in tracks like “Green Eyes,” a personal favorite of mine, then there is no saying how far this group will go from here on out.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/09-Green-Eyes.mp3]

Download: Wavves – Green Eyes [MP3]