When: Tue., Feb. 8, 7 p.m. and Wed., Feb. 9, 9 p.m. 2011
Sold out; 2/8 is all-ages, 2/9 is 18+.
When the indie-music blogosphere all but collapsed in on itself with the news that recently ordained noise-pop wunderkind Nathan Williams, aka WAVVES, had lost the thread in a spectacular fashion at Barcelona's Primavera Sound in 2009, you had to pause and wonder whether maybe the hype machine wasn't a little too eager to eat its young. Fortified by a cocktail of ecstasy, Xanax, and Valium that he apologized for taking in a blog post that's since disappeared, Williams was in a raging stupor, insulting the festival crowd and fighting with drummer Ryan Ulsh—and in a flash the proof popped up all over YouTube. Williams canceled the remainder of his European tour and went home with his tail between his legs. After some lineup shuffling and a bit of getting his fucking shit together, he rallied last year with the third Wavves full-length, King of the Beach (Fat Possum), his first album with a two-piece rhythm section—bassist Stephen Pope and drummer Billy Hayes, both formerly of Jay Reatard's band. (Hayes was replaced late last year by Jacob Cooper from the Mae Shi.) Compared to the trebly haze of the early records, it's polished and well-produced—you don't have to strain to pick out the different instruments—but it's still snarky, lo-fi punk, with the same self-deprecating lyrics you'd expect from Williams. The relative sonic clarity of King of the Beach means the songs can stretch their legs, showing off crisp, shiny hooks that remind me of the impossibly nice southern California weather that Williams loves to sneer at. There's no reason to worry that he's ditched his bratty, brazen attitude for something more grown-up, though—Wavves has been selling weed grinders as merch, for Christ's sake.
Montreal combo NO JOY, fronted by guitarists Jasmine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd, revisit the roaring pop noise of shoegaze on their impressive debut, Ghost Blonde (Mexican Summer). They sound a bit like a blown-out, scuffed-up Lush, with their wan but pretty vocal melodies and reverbed drums submerged even further by tidal waves of six-string distortion and feedback. Tense punk riffs and huge, sweeping washes of sound—a combo reminiscent of early-90s Sonic Youth—rattle through their simple song structures like thunderstorms. Of course, no record can match the hair-raising rush of all-enveloping volume bands like this usually go for onstage—but from what I've read, No Joy can bring the pain live.