LIVE REVIEW: Wavves, Unknown Mortal Orchestra @ The Standard, Sydney (25/07/13)

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by Chris Familton

This was a night where two bands rooted in guitar music came together from quite different directions. Wavves drew the notably larger crowd on the back of their notoriety and accesibile punk pop while Unknown Mortal Orchestra drew from the well of classic psych rock and soul music. One band caressed and cajoled their melodies while the other shouted and bashed out theirs.

The genius behind Unknown Mortal Orchestra is New Zealander (via Portland, Oregon) Ruban Nielson who formed the nucleus of that country’s well respected Mint Chicks. He has gone on to new pastures and surrounded himself with two equally masterful musicians in bassist Jacob Portrait and drummer Gregory Rogove. With the latter set up side of stage the trio set about creating a magical hourlong time-warp back through Stax-styled soul melodies and psych wig-outs that conjured up the musical ghosts of The Hendrix Experience, MC5 and Sly & The Family Stone. That might sound like it was a retro exercise yet they somehow managed to refract their music through a thoroughly modern prism, even with a traditional rock drum solo thrown into the mix.

Nielson showed what a superb guitarist he is, whether it was playing searing acid-drenched lead solos or digging deep into some minimal soul shapes. Portrait filled out the bass-heavy mix with intricate and busy bass-lines that allowed Nielson the space to fill in his dots. Highlights were frequent, particularly the soul-rich melodies of How Can U Luv Me, Ffunny Ffrends, The Opposite of Afternoon, Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark) and recent single So Good At Being in Trouble. What defined UMO’s excellent set was the movement, groove and vibrancy of their music simply distilled through three instruments, effects and and vocals.

Wavves had the audience in the palm of their hand from their intro music – N.W.A’s Fuck Tha Police. Alcohol was hitting bloodstreams, hands were in the air and bodies were starting to collide from the opening barrage of guitar chords. There is little subtlety in the music of Wavves and what is there comes in the vocal delivery of Nathan Williams who has the ability to craft super hooky melodies a la Weezer and local lads Violent Soho. The intro to Demon To Lean On was a perfect example with the punters nailing the singalong before the band kicked in.

There was little time for banter between songs and with Total Control’s James Vinciguerra filling in on drums they ripped through a set that covered most parts of the band’s discography (Super Soaker, King of the Beach, Afraid of Heights) as well as a lurching and faithful cover of Sonic Youth’s 100%. At times Wavves sail a little too close to Blink 182 or Everclear territory, hence the proclivity of backwards baseball caps and sun bleached hair in the crowd but they still do enough to mark themselves out as a band with their own voice and live they were an undeniably tight band.

The crowning moment of the set was Williams deciding to raise the bar on the standard of crowd surfing by crawling across the raised palms, dragging himself to the speaker stack and climbing it before executing and perfect front somersault back onto the outstretched arms below. 10/10 for technique and execution and then they were gone, in a haze of scattershot lighting and amp feedback.

this review was first published on FasterLouder

Favourite Songs of 2011

So many people are starting to base their listening on songs these days, such is the reduction in attention spans, the proliferation of YouTube browsing and the ease of compiling ones own playlists featuring the best stuff you want to hear. Separate to my Top 50 LPs of 2011 I’ve also put together a list of songs that caught my ears and became hard to shake. There were of course dozens of others that could be included here but this is a lucky dip of sorts into some of my favourite tunes of 2011 that might lead you further into the artist’s work if you havent checked them out yet…

In no particular order as they are all great…

Dick Diver – On The Bank

Those Darlins – Screw Get Loose

J. Mascis – Not Enough

Total Control – One More Tonight

Light Asylum – Dark Allies

The Strokes – Under Cover of Darkness

Iron & Wine – Tree By a River

Timber Timbre – Bad Ritual

Little Dragon – Ritual Union

Wilco – I Might

Two Tears – Eat People

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Belong

Iowa – Complete Control

The Laurels – Black Cathedral

The Adults – Nothing To Lose

Austra – Lose It

Atlas Sound – Te Amo

Twerps – Dreamin

Royal Headache – Really In Love

Melodie Nelson – Waiting

Black Lips – Spidey’s Curse

Crystal Stilts – Shake The Shackles

Jamie XX – Far Nearer

The Felice Brothers – Ponzi

The Paper Scissors – Lung Sum

Robag Wruhme – Thora Vukk

Wavves – I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl

Wild Flag – Romance

Leader Cheetah – Crawling Up A Landslide

NEWS: Listen to a track from the new Wavves mini-album Life Sux…

On the back of last year’s brilliant King of the Beach Wavves have been churning out some new tracks and a bunch of them will form the new mini-album Life Sux – due out at the end of September via Inertia. Check out one of the new tracks below – the uber catchy Jesus and Mary Chain on uppers I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl.

ds…twenty five – our favourite releases of 2010

That’s it then, 2010 done and dusted and although it wasn’t the best year ever for new music there were some damn fine records released. This year we’re seeing an even more eclectic mix of flavours coming through from witch house, minimal electronica, americana, experimental and the all encompassing indie tag. Have a look at what we loved through the year, click on the covers for linked reviews and please leave comments and let us know your faves…

2010 has also been another stellar year for reissues, remasters and deluxe versions and honourable mentions must go to:

  • David Bowie | Station To Station
  • The Rolling Stones | Exile On Main Street
  • Iggy Pop & James Williamson | KIll City
  • Dexys Midnight Runners | Searching For The Lost Soul Rebels
  • Frankie Goes To Hollywood | Welcome To The Pleasuredome
  • The Cure | Disintegration

25. Spoon | Transference

24. Liars | Sisterworld

23. Wavves | KIng Of The Beach

22. Surf City | Kudos

21. Simon Carter | The Black Book Of The Universe

20. Mount Kimbie | Crooks & Lovers

19. James Blake | Klavierwerke EP

18. Forest Swords | Dagger Paths EP

17. Jeremy Jay | Splash

16. Mark Moldre | The Waiting Room

15. Damien Jurado | Saint Bartlett

14. Deerhunter | Halcyon Digest

13. Gayngs | Relayted

12. Zola Jesus | Stridulum II

11. Wooden Shjips | Vol. 2

10. CocoRosie | Grey Oceans

9. Yeasayer | Odd Blood

8. The Black Keys | Brother

7. Tame Impala | Innerspeaker

6. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti | Before Today

5. Best Coast | Crazy For You

4. Beach House | Teen Dream

3. Die! Die! Die! | Form

2. The Soft Pack | The Soft Pack

1. Arcade Fire | The Suburbs

INTERVIEW: Wavves

WavvesNathan Williams crashed and burned at last year’s Primavera Festival, or so it was reported in the indie blogosphere of which he was the latest lo-fi darling. Watching the footage it isn’t as grand a meltdown as many suggested and in hindsight it was probably what Williams needed; to shake off some excess baggage, recruit Jay Reatard’s rhythm section and record his finest album in King of the Beach. Amid a busy US tour Williams phones in to report on life on the road and the creation of his new record.

Life in a touring van is a well documented world of tedium. From the sound of the banter between Williams and bandmates Billy Hayes and Stephen Pope, humour is what keeps them sane – or insane. “Definitely having the same sense of humour and the same murderous rage is helpful, it keeps everyone on the same page. It’s good when we say ‘What are we going to do tonight – oh we’re going to murder’ and there isn’t somebody like ‘ oh my god what?’ – Let’s go find a victim. Apart from getting sick the tour has been going really well. A lot of murders and child abductions – that kind of thing. Just a normal Wavves tour with aliens, marijuana, ambulances and fire trucks,” says Williams.

The big shift in the world of Wavves came in the form of recording in a professional studio with an external producer. With the change in scenery came a bigger, bolder and more assured sounding Wavves and it was that type of sound that Williams was hoping to master. “The majority of the songs had been written almost a year ago. It was also that I got to write the songs and then sit on them and not be so involved in recording them straight away. That gives it a lot more depth I think. Billy and Stephen both wrote for the record so it’s a lot more diverse and thought out,” he explains.

Though Williams loved the experience of the studio there were some elements of it that he didn’t enjoy. “ The producer, Little Denis Herring – that’s what they called him in high school – narced on us for smoking weed. He got mad at us once for that which felt like we were getting in trouble with security guards in high school. It was weird at the beginning with a lot of label stuff. They tried to get me to record with studio musicians and it was really shitty but finally we said ‘no we’re not going to do that, this is how it’s going to be’. Once we got into it it was pretty smooth sailing,” Williams recalls.

The sound of Wavves is a clever, fizzing fusion of Sonic Youth, Nirvana, The Beach Boys and Pavement on speed and Williams confirms they were key influences on the band. “I think all of us listened to alternative nineties music, that were our formative years and what the record was based on. I just love melody in songs, which probably comes from older music we listen to.”

Live, the new rhythm section add the same heady rush and pummel that characterised their playing with Jay Reatard, though Williams offers some other angles on what they have brought to Wavves. “About 2.5 feet in height, 420 pounds in weight, an insatiable craving for marijuana and a bad attitude,” he laughs. In-jokes abound and in the background the rest of the band join in, contributing “We like aliens and sluts so we think that will be the recurring them for Wavves. We don’t like cats anymore, we like crying on cats.”

Wavves are taking it as it comes and definitely making sure they don’t take anything too seriously. With a fantastic new album and a bunch of touring ahead of them – including a visit to Australia early in 2011 – they leave us with one burning question… “Do you think if you made a pipe out of weed you could smoke weed out it and not ruin the pipe?”

this interview first appeared on FasterLouder

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MP3: Wavves | Post Acid

Nathan Williams aka Wavves has got his shit together, picked up Jay Reatard’s rhythm section and recorded his best record to date in the upcoming King Of The Beach – due out 3rd Sept via Pod/Inertia in Australia. You can already grab a digital copy over at iTunes… I’ll let you do the searching.

In the meantime here is a taster in the form of a stram and/or download of Post Acid.

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