We've got to admit, we were sold at the album art. There's something about cats holding fat spliffs (or chomping on the green leaf) that gets us going every time.

While it's not clear whether Wavves' Nathan Williams — now a resident of Eagle Rock, we here — has dubbed his canonical feline (see right) “King of the Beach” or himself, we're inclined to agree with him either way.

Because if you listen to his third album proper, King of the Beach, you'll discover that the notoriously lo-fi bedroom artist has actually ascended.

Backed by a real live band and assisted by a real cranky producer (more on that to come), Williams has put together some seriously well-crafted songs. We're talking bridges, hooks and attention to detail, even as his free-form adventurousness and slackass persona shine through.

If you know your Wavves lore, then you'll know why these bits from the press release for the album are actually a good read.

In the life of Nathan Williams, the year of 2009 will go down as both a highlight reel and a total shit show. Meteorically, feverishly and somewhat improbably, two albums worth of naïve punk rock he recorded behind his parents' San Diego home as Wavves became a sensation in the world of indie music. As a result, passports got filled, capers got pulled off and lots of good things got said about the music in both print and digital ink, plus in actual human voices. At the same time, fights got fought, situations got hairy and people got indignant and mean.

Oh well. Fuck it. All of it.


Unlike Wavves' previously released material, recorded in haphazard bursts on Williams' laptop, King of the Beach was toiled over for three months at Sweet Tea Recording, a world-renown studio in Oxford, Mississippi. Sweet Tea is also the home of Dennis Herring, producer of the last two Modest Mouse albums, and the man who dismantled and re-assembled the sound on this record.

All the rumors are true: Herring is a studio perfectionist. Williams is not. “There were some definite 'I want to wring you neck'-type moments,” Williams says of the sessions, but he also understood that, with the resources he had available to him, he'd be stupid not to make the album sound exactly how he wanted it. “When you're not watering it down with a load of shit and reverb, it's a lot harder to make a record, because you know every part is going to be heard perfectly. You can't half-ass anything,” says Williams.

Lastly, King of the Beach is currently streaming via Wavves' record label, Fat Possum.

LA Weekly