…Would anyone care?
This question came to me not out of contempt, or even mild dislike of Nathan Williams and his bedroom juggernaut Wavves. In fact, I quite like his tunes. It came to me when I caught wind of his forthcoming record via a press release; the subsequent news splattering notable websites and blogs, and it dawned on me how the setup for this record is the polar opposite of his last. Quite appropriate for one of the most polarizing figures in garage rock.
I was with the young Nathan Williams two years ago (not physically, but in spirit) as he went from being a (literal) kid recording blissed out fuzzy, summer tunes in his bedroom, to being the poster-boy for Pitchfork's coming of age. Hell, it was hard not to be in awe watching him play his (literally) fifth show and seeing hundreds of girls swoon as he flipped his John Dwyer-wannabe bangs. All the while I was thinking to myself, “a few months ago no one outside of California and Terminal Boredom even knew who this kid was.”
Fast forward to the impending August 3 release of his new record.
See, I still want to be with the (still) young Mr. Williams. After all, he admits in his press release that 2009 was “both a highlight reel and a total shit show.” That means he gets it right? Playing it all off with the proverbial shrug, he dismisses his break-down and band fights with an “Oh well. Fuck it. All of it.” That means we can expect him to go back to his roots, right? To slink back into his San Diego home and make a record devoid of all the backlash and blogosphere hype, right?
Tomorrow we will finally get to hear his newest single in over a year and a half, “Post Acid,” presented by Mountain Dew's Green Label Sound. The song is the first to be released from his upcoming, humbly titled full length, King of the Beach. All of which was recorded over three months at Sweet Tea studios in Oxford, Mississippi under the guiding tutelage of Dennis Herring — he of Modest Mouse fame.
I'm not making any assumptions.
Of his working with Herring for three months, Nathan said he “didn't want to make the same record again,” and he pined that it's a lot harder to make a record “when you're not watering it down with a load of shit and reverb.”
Of working with Mountain Dew: “It's a chance to give away free music. “Post Acid” was written and recorded as a true pop song … I knew that I would want it to be heard on as wide a scale as possible.”
On facing the critics and not recording the same way that made him popular: “It wasn't overbearing … I wanted to make something bigger, something stronger.”
I'm sorry Nathan, I just don't buy it. I think they're all press junket blurbs to excuse the fact you're
acting like a star in a garage rock scene that hails the anti-hero. You say “Fuck it all” in your press release, so just come out and really fuck it all. Don't play the self-loathing surfer the stupid critics make you out to be. Be the star-hungry musician who takes a sizable budget to record an album called King of the
Beach, and can't make friends with a band long enough to tour. There is no shame in that game. Remember Nathan, Stuart Copeland is cool, but Sting is rich. Like, fucking private island rich.
Dude, you even got Jay Reatard's backing band in on it, who supposedly “squeegeed you up” after your Primavera melt down. Seriously? Are you writing a TV sitcom right now, because this can't be real life. You're telling me you got the guys who helped prop up a drug-addled Reatard long enough to milk some residuals before he overdosed as your support staff? Call them what they are: The band of the moment.
As I've said, I will reserve all assumptions about the music until I get to hear it, but it won't matter, because Nathan Williams is on a Dirty Projectors-level corporate high, trying to pretend like we're not smart enough to get it. Only stupid enough to buy it. And he's right.
The press release for King of the Beach closes by stating the title isn't meant to be
ironic or a self-deprecating joke, but a declaration. “Without sounding
cheesy, we all wanted to make something inspiring,” says Williams.
“It's the type of thing where you have this much, but you could have
more, so go get it.”
Smart words to live by. Nathan Williams should realize it will only get harder to hide, so he should heed his own words. Not everyone gets their 15-minutes and, as many critics like to point out, it could be argued Nathan didn't get here because of his talents, so he should use it like a rented mule. “Indie” lost its irony long ago, no one would fault him for embracing the corporate culture that's paying his bills.