San Diego's Wavves, the brainchild of Nate Williams, played naive
lo-fi psychedelic pop on Wavves (Woodsist, 2008 - Fat Possum, 2009).
They sang simple melodies warping their vocal harmonies through
They specialized in childish singalongs of the kind mainly used in
nursery schools, but then dressed up in noisy formats:
California Goth erupts in galvanized drums and wild guitar distortion,
while Side Yr On is smothered in a
Stooges-like storm of metallic guitars,
Beach Goth is wrapped in a cacophonous freak-out,
and Teenage Super Party plays the
Beach Boys in a drunk hoedown.
They abandon this bizarre mode of expression only a couple of time, but those
are standouts too: the thriller voodoo atmosphere of Vermin
and the hysterical bacchanal Lover, worthy of the no wave of the 1970s.
Finally, there are three brief surreal instrumentals that, alone, would
uphold Williams' credentials:
the industrial-grade musique concrete of Space Raider, the
new-age electronic watercolor of Spaced Raider, and
dadaistic collage of funny noises of Yoked.
Wavvves (Fat Possum, 2009)
opens with an instrumental overture that is
precisely a continuation of the first album's wordless experiments:
the videogame-inspired clockwork of Rainbow Everywhere.
The other instrumentals are even more inventive:
Goth Girls is a miniconcerto for galactic effects,
and Beach Goth envelops surf music in a shroud of guitar noise.
These are the kind of instrumentals that Syd Barrett would have composed.
The songs, still delivered by fuzzed vocals, are generally less innocent and more violent, starting with the
gargantuan charge of Beach Demon through the psychobilly of
To the Dregs to the frenzied pow-wow dance of Gun In The Sun.
Centrifugal songs include the
jugular-clawing jarring guitar jam
Sun Opens My Eyes and the
subhuman litany of Surf Goth, that resurrects even the ghost of the Residents.
The naive singalongs and vocal harmonies of the first album resurface in
the hyperkinetic No Hope Kids.
King of the Beach (Fat Possum, 2010) shifts gear. With better production
and regular vocals, King of the Beach is just a catchy tribute to
beach music of the 1960s a` la
The refrain of Idiot
amounts to a faithful, professional recreation of
the psychedelic era, the kind that were popular in the "Paisley Underground"
of Los Angeles in the 1980s.
Linus Spacehead adapts that aesthetic to the format of power-pop:
catchy vocal refrain and power guitar riff.
Baby Say Goodbye travels further back in time to the doo-wop groups of the 1950s and the girl-groups of the 1960s.
The problem is that the songs flow one after the other without leaving a mark.
None is terrible, but none is memorable either.
The professional production has turned his method into background muzak.
The childish refrains are too serious to be funny.
The guitar noise is restrained and sometimes replaced by keyboard arrangements.
Everything is too "right" to be intelligent.
There are exceptions (the demented Mickey Mouse)
but mostly this music sounds like "old" compared with the youthful exuberance
and nonsense of the first two albums.
The centerpiece of the EP Life Sux (Ghost Ramp, 2011) is supposed to
be the poppy I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl but the real highlights are the
Nodding Off (with backup vocalist Beth Cosentino) and Destroy
(with Fucked Up).
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