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Alternative & Indie - Released May 19, 2017 | Ghost Ramp

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After a less than pleasant experience releasing their previous album, 2015's V, through Warner Bros., Wavves mainman Nathan Williams decided to move the band over to his own Ghost Ramp label for 2017's You're Welcome and change some things about the recording process. On V, the band had all jammed together in the studio, resulting in their most live-sounding and brightly fun album. This time, Williams began working on his own in the studio, starting the songs off before bringing the rest of the band in one by one to record their parts. With the help of producer Dennis Herring (who had worked with Williams on King of the Beach), he built the songs from samples and weird sounds, giving each one a tangible hook, before adding each bandmember's (still Alex Gates, Stephen Pope, and Brian Hill) contribution. The end result is a deviation from the usual Wavves sound, definitely more of a wonky bedroom pop meets knucklehead alt-rock feel than just a bunch of guys blasting through a batch of songs. As good as V was, it's fascinating to hear this new approach play out. After beginning with a couple of rockers with naggingly sharp slide guitar hooks, the album veers off in one oddball direction after another. It's still super-catchy and fun, like Wavves at their best usually are, but it's warped in a very interesting way. The care Williams and Herring put into the sound of each song, the use of odd samples and sounds, the dynamic tension they make sure each song has -- it all adds up to something a little more impressive than a bunch of songs all played at maximum volume. Sure, there are a couple of knockout rockers, like "Dreams of Grandeur" and "Exercise," but even these have weird little production tricks and glitches that make them really stick. The songs that fully give themselves over to the samples are really fun. "Come to the Valley" is a loping pop song with what sounds like a sample of a vocal choir from the '50s; "I Love You" kicks off with a snippet of an old doo wop song, then segues into a reverb-drenched ballad that sounds like the most honest expression of emotion they've ever put on wax. A couple other highlights are the glittery, '80s-damaged "Million Enemies," where it sounds like Herring whipped out some of the sounds he used when producing Timbuk 3, and the Alex Gates-penned "Animal," which sounds weird in context just by being straightforward indie rock. Nathan Williams could have kept cranking out fun and frothy albums like V with little effort; it's good that he decided to stretch his creative muscles a little on You're Welcome. It's even better that he came up with a smart and compulsively listenable update on the Wavves sound that kept all their rambunctious energy, but also added some fun tricks and treats. ~ Tim Sendra
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V

Alternative & Indie - Released October 2, 2015 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 26, 2013 | Mom + Pop - Warner Records

After the fizzy psych-punk of his last album, King of the Beach, Wavves frontman Nathan Williams seemingly discovered a stash of albums from the '90s and sank deeply under their spell while writing and recording the 2013 follow-up, Afraid of Heights. Working with producer John Hill (of Rihanna and Santigold fame) and loyal sidekick Stephen Pope, Williams crafted an album that has so many influences from the era of grunge, pop-punk, and '90 alt-rock that it's almost too exhausting to play spot the reference on every minute of every song. There are guitars that sound just like Kurt Cobain's, quite a few tracks that sound like Weezer deep cuts, lots of quiet-verse/loud-chorus dynamics, bursts of Pixie-esque angst, and a general feel of hazy nostalgia for the era that bleeds the album of energy and punch. Although some snotty loser punk noise bursts through on the more straightforward rockers like "Mystic," "Cop," and "Beat Me Up," the rest of the album is polished to within an inch of its life, with lots of programming, cello, and extra stuff mucking up the arrangements. There's a thick coat of studio sheen that gums up the works here, making songs like the overblown (and super self-pitying) "Everything Is My Fault" and the lifeless "That's on Me" sound like tracks from albums made by one of the endless number of bands that sprang up on major-label rosters after Nirvana hit big. While it may have seemed like a good idea to try expanding their sound and throwing some new ideas into the mix, sometimes a band just needs to stick with what it does well. If they had stripped away some of the extra production, scaled back on "atmosphere," and played the songs with some fire, the record would have been much better. As it stands, though, Afraid of Heights is just too lifeless and safe-sounding to really make any kind of positive impact. Maybe lovers of '90s revival bands will find something to like here, but anyone who was into the records Wavves made before is out of luck. ~ Tim Sendra
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V

Alternative & Indie - Released October 2, 2015 | Warner Records

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Christmas Music - Released November 30, 2018 | Ghost Ramp

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 23, 2018 | Epitaph

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 24, 2018 | Ghost Ramp

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Pop/Rock - Released March 8, 2011 | Ghost Ramp

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 7, 2009 | Post Present Medium

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 14, 2017 | Ghost Ramp

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 16, 2009 | Young Turks Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 29, 2013 | Mom + Pop - Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 9, 2015 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 31, 2015 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 14, 2015 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 11, 2015 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 25, 2015 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 30, 2017 | Epitaph