Wavves: King of the Beach

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Artist: Wavves

Title: King of the Beach
Release date: August 3
Label: Fat Possum

Remember Wavves? They (well, it was more or less one guy, Nathan Williams, and whoever would back him) were huge in Indieland last summer, the ultimate buzz band of 2009. Then they played some high-profile festivals, totally sucked at those shows, and subsequently seemed to lose some of the goodwill from Indieland's tastemakers.

New Times even used a Wavves song as the focal point of a music feature last year on a young East Valley punk rocker named Danny Dirtnap. After the story came out, I went to check them out at the Rhythm Room. Yawn. The drummer was fantastic, but even his balls-out playing couldn't elevate young Nathan's so-so songs. In the end, it was a 45-minute wall of noise that left much of the surprisingly small-ish crowd as seemingly underwhelmed as I was.

A year later, Williams has a new record called King of the Beach. And what to do you know? It's pretty darn good. Maybe the kid got serious about his craft. Maybe it's the new permanent rhythm section he's got (the exiled bassist and drummer of the late Jay Reatard's band). In the end, it's simply better songs. Much better songs.

Williams diversifies considerably on King of the Beach, going from a one-note blast of hyper-strummed distorted guitar on his debut record to experimenting with dynamics, varying tempos, and compelling arrangements. Whereas his first record was all about trying to find a melody underneath all the clamor, this time the melody is an integral part of the clamor. Make no mistake: Nathan Williams can't sing a lick -- and his Best Coast-ian thematics are nearly insufferable -- but that almost works in his favor on King of the Beach. Previously, Williams came across as a guy who seemed pretty satisfied to have pulled the wool over our eyes and could have a devil-may-care laugh at our fawning over him. 

Now, he's got attitude and a chip on his shoulder, and sort of a spirit of overcoming what appeared to be the tale of a buzz act that couldn't live up to the buzz when it mattered. 

Oh, and those Jay Reatard guys really do make a difference.

Wavves, "Idiot"

Best song: "Idiot" is one of my favorite songs of the past few months ("I could apologize but it wouldn't mean shit"), and "Green Eyes" ("My own friends hate my guts") is an instant favorite, too. There are a couple of stinkers, but they don't bog down the proceedings too much.
Rotation: Medium-heavy
Deja Vu: The roar and melodies of Nirvana meets L.A.'s early-'80s "paisley underground."
I'd rather listen to: Dinosaur Jr.'s You're Living All Over Me 
Grade: B+

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment 

The "Nothing Not New" Archives

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.