Wavves – Wavvves

March 17, 2009

wavvvesI imagine a good joke to play on an audiophile friend would be to play the new album by Wavves, which has deliberate distortion throughout, and say, “Well, it plays perfectly on my system.” Wavvves is the follow up to the self-titled debut album by Wavves aka Nathan Williams, a San Diego based one man band (at least on his recordings to date) who combines surf punk with noise rock. Underneath the buzz and the drone, you’ll hear Williams’ knack for a catchy pop melody or a good guitar or synthesizer riff, the result sounding as if the Beach Boys had joined forces with Dick Dale and proceeded to drop the brown acid together. Sonically, Wavvves challenges listener notions of what good music sounds like, but the static and the noise are just another musical layer, like listening to someone’s tantalizingly good songs on a radio station left of the dial, with permanently poor reception. If Williams hadn’t put anything worthwhile for listeners to find underneath all that noise and distortion, Wavvves wouldn’t work, but he has, and the album does. Standout cuts: “Beach Demon,” “To The Dregs,” “So Bored” and “Weed Demon.”


Parts & Labor – Receivers

October 22, 2008

The new album from Brooklyn based band Parts & Labor is a consistently surprising effort, combining noise, prog and psychedelic rock, often with 70’s heavy metal guitar backdrop, into an experimental mix that for the first half of the album often doesn’t even seem like the same band from track to track. They also layer on some electronic flourishes and display a real talent for a pop hook, as with the irresistible “Nowheres Nigh.” Things slow down a bit at the midpoint with “The Ceasing Now,” but pick up again with the somewhat regal sounding ballad “Wedding In A Wasteland” and the prog rock workout “Prefix Now,” both of which have an epic sweep about them. This is a pretty cool record, and having not listened to Parts & Labor in the past, this was an unexpected pleasure. Standout cuts: “Satellites,” “Nowheres Nigh,” “Mount Misery” and “Wedding In A Wasteland.”


No Age – Nouns

May 11, 2008

Second album from Los Angeles based band No Age is a potent mixture of punk, noise rock and pop, and a bit of shoegaze and dream pop, sometimes all mixed into a single song. It took me a few listens to really get a bead on the album as it seemed to run together the first couple of listens, but as it’s only half an hour long, repeat listens were no problem. Once I got a handle on it, I really started to enjoy it and appreciate the switches in style throughout the 12 tracks. There are only two members of No Age, but the impressive wall of sound and noise they throw up sometimes belies that. Nouns is like Guided By Voices, the Pixies and My Bloody Valentine crossed with Sonic Youth at their most dissonant and experimental, and if that sounds good, No Age is the band for you. Standout cuts: “Teen Creeps,” “Cappo,” “Sleeper Hold” and “Brain Burner.”