A potentially fruitful rebirth of the lo-fi aesthetic, if he can keep it together
Wavves is the nom de four-track of Nathan Williams, a San Diego savant whose blend of edge-of-disaster noise and surprisingly catchy pop hooks suggests a potentially fruitful rebirth of the lo-fi aesthetic. Unemployed and living in a shed behind his parents' suburban home, the 20-ish skateboarder and former record store clerk used a rudimentary knowledge of his Mac laptop's GarageBand software to record a batch of songs he put up on his website throughout 2008 and eventually self-released as a cassette that fall. So far, his story is that of any number of stoned slackers, but the difference is that underneath Williams' willful distortion and sloppiness is a knack for surf-rock and girl-group sounds that's the closest anyone in the late '00s noise-pop renaissance has yet come to matching the sweet-and-sour shock of the Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy. Williams was the talk of the indie blogosphere by early 2009, but an unfortunately-timed drug-fueled onstage meltdown at a prominent European festival that spring, followed by a stint in rehab, halted his progress for a period. In late 2009, Williams appropriated Jay Reatard's former rhythm section (bassist Stephen Pope and drummer Billy Hayes), turning Wavves into a proper band.