Thursday, July 8, 2010

Indy Rock Reveiws:::Wavves - King of the Beach

Indy Rock Reveiws is a brand new segment of the Spotblog. In it, palz provides his expert insight on the latest vaunted indie rock releases. In tribute to Pitchfork Media, aka the last vestige of *rEaL* counterculture, all records/bands/songs will be graded on a scale of 1 to 6, with decimals, and a final verdict of "Better than Qids?" To give some sort of context, a perfect 6.0 would be equivalent to a 9.2 BNM p4k album.

I went into seeing Wavves live at the Market Hotel (good riddance) in February 2009 already moderately embittered towards him. I heard "So Bored" and was wholly unmoved by it, and was disheartened to learn that the weedheaded, skateboarding doofus behind this music, only a couple years older than myself, was already being praised by p4k and ABC news just months after playing his first show.

The show I was about to blow $10 on, however, would serve as a demoralizing crash course in present day, Brooklyn 'DIY' (the audacity mk II) indie rock. In a venue my band couldn't sniff booking a show at, promoted by a tyrant (UNWUR) who can't be bothered to respond to my emails (no matter how threatening), I bore witness, first hand, to the paradox of modern independent rock music: none of these bands can fucking play.

Between shambolic sets from Wavves themselves, opener Nodzzz(zzz?), the texturally/melodically insipid Blank Dogs, and one of the biggest piece of shit bands going right now, Woods (I didn't even stay for them, and it would be months before I had the misfortune of even hearing their music), it became distressingly apparent that, had Ian and I owned a reverb pedal in high school, we could've been niche famous.

The same regurgitated power chord progressions, compartmentalized ambitions, and stylistic neglect of originality which permeated the duration of that show would pop up time and time again on many a 2009 release and are all amply showcased on Wavvves. Its failed noise experiments and objective clunkers where songs were presumably supposed to be (see: "Beach Demon") notwithstanding, Wavvves satisfied on the absolute dumbest level. I enjoyed the chord progression of "So Bored," Mr Wavves' go-to progression (more on this later), when I first heard it in high school on "Wave of Mutilation"; I enjoyed it more than I did in "So Bored" yet still less than in "Wave" on "To the Dregs." These two nearly-identical tracks are brazenly featured on the same half of the same album is so preposterous I almost have to applaud Wavves.

As I see it, the whole idea of something being a "guilty pleasure" stems from the fact that what you gratifies on a sensory level does not always pass the litmus test of what gratifies on an artistic (and often enough, social) level. I can appreciate a chord progression I'd heard before, but knowing it was cheaply recycled, not once, but twice, reflects pretty poorly on the artist here, and it's admittedly salt in the wounds to see something that lacks so much integrity garner the attention and praise it does, while the virtues of my own endeavors go largely unappreciated. I'd compare this paradox of enjoyment to hate-fucking-- think of some famous hot chick you'd love to bang, yet think is a stupid whore. After all, aren't the need to slam and the need to rock out both more or less physical?

It's even easier to hate Wavves when you consider what an ingrate prick the dude is, all storming off stages in places most could only dream of visiting, in front of thousands of paying fans. What almost separates him from the pack, other than having slightly better taste in stolen melodies than his contemporaries, is that he doesn't seem to be complacent. As embarrassing as it was to watch live clips of him trying to keep up with Zach Hill, it's still sadly a noble attempt to try and move outside his comfort zone. The same goes for his shift into the world of high fidelity recording on King of the Beach.

Recorded in the same studio (I think) as the way better Merriweather Post Pavilion, King of the Beach boasts a production that, to quote Sam McKeon, "pops!" and this proves effective on the standout title track and the equally satisfactory "Super Soaker." I was all ready to say that "Linus Spacehead" features the catchiest chorus he's ever taken, but apparently one of the ex-Reatards wrote that one. In fact, the Wavves dude himself only wrote nine of these songs. Of these, the best is "Mickey Mouse," which had p4k shitting themselves about a year ago when they heralded it for being "lo-fi Animal Collective." Here it's cleaned up, but the description is ultimately apt-- a neat horn sample he likely obtained using the same expensive software which lent past Wavves releases those signature distortion filters casts shades of "Comfy in Nautica" before the fuzzy guitar and warbled falsetto drop in. Listeners/suckers are more likely, however, to latch onto lead single "Post Acid." The verses sounding like a revved up "Summer Babe" with guitars that cut in and out on an absolute dime, the song is pleasant enough until you get to the chorus and realize that this could quite easily be a late 2000's era Weezer cut. That something supposedly representative of the gritty underground could evoke "Troublemaker," and that that same something could also make hipsters lose their shit while simultaneously ignoring my heretofore life's work is just downright heartbreaking.

Elsewhere, there's not a ton going on. "Convertible Balloon" is the token chillwave nod, "Baby Say Goodbye" drags a little but its heart is in the right place, and "Idiot" sounds like track 3 on Nimrod. Like every other 21st century indie rock album that has some sort of lo-fi affiliation, there's a track that cribs the already red handed "Just Like Honey" ("When Will You Come?"), but most interesting of these throwaways is "Take On the World." Reverting back to that old "Wave of Mutilation" progression, Wavvesguy sings something about lamenting the fact that everything he writes is the same. Maybe this kind of confession would endear Wavves to people, but while I'll likely often listen to the first two songs, "Linus" and "Mickey Mouse" whenever I go running or out driving on a sunny day, it won't keep me from still harboring some sort of deeply seated rage towards him.




gary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gery said...

flew off dA handle there...sore-E...