Everyone keeps talking about how Wavves has grown up. It’s understandable. This year’s Afraid of Heights is polished. The newfound production flourishes—from glockenspiel to synths and strings—downright sparkle. Even more striking is that their fourth album isn’t so much about getting high. Or skateboarding. Or surfing.
Except that it is.
All of Wavves’ trademark topics are there. They’re just buried in lyrics about suicide, existential dread, and unrequited love. It’s a reversal of the band’s old sound, which saw the more serious topics buried in lyrics about getting high. And skateboarding. And surfing. Likewise, the songs still convulse with SoCal power chords (albeit with more melancholy strumming) and Nathan Williams’ gleefully snotty vocals (albeit with less snot).
Live, Wavves mixes their more adventurous new material—most notably the intoxicated religious conversion of the title track—with prankish older cuts like “Idiot” and “Post Acid”, curating a set that drives home both the confusion and introspection found on the road to maturity. The duo still is, for all intents and purposes, a surf-punk band. Hell, they just toured with FIDLAR.
Growing up? Maybe. Growing old? Never.
01. “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along” — Carmen McRae
I started off the playlist with this song because for most of my life my mom would wake me up singing this song. I don’t know if this was the version she was singing, but it’s the same song. Whenever I hear this song I know I have to wake up. I hate it and I love it at the same time.
02. “Hey! Little Child” — Alex Chilton
This was the first Alex Chilton solo song I ever heard because a band in Memphis would cover this every set I saw them play at this shitty little bar with terrible sound. I had always liked Big Star but when I got Like Flies on Sherbert I realized how amazing Alex Chilton actually was.
03. Chubby Checker – “Limbo Rock”
This is a great song that always puts me in a good mood. Great way to get a party started! It reminds me of elementary school parties at the skating rink because we’d do limbo in roller skates. I’d usually sit off to the side somewhere and just sing along to the song like a weirdo.
04. R. Stevie Moore – “I Like to Stay Home”
This is my favorite R. Stevie Moore song and it reminds me of living in this giant stone mansion that was falling apart with rats and four other roommates in Memphis about five years ago and finding out about R. Stevie Moore for the first time and listening to Glad Music over and over again. #runonsentence
05. “Everybody Loves Somebody” — Dean Martin
This song reminds me of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when Carlton tries to convince Will to call Jazz because they had a falling out. I love the Fresh Prince, and it was truly heartbreaking to see Will and Jazz not get along.
06. “Snowfall” — The Halo Benders
In high school I was a huge fan of Built to Spill and Beat Happening and all the K Records stuff, but when I heard the Halo Benders (members of Built to Spill and Beat Happening) it blew me away. Way more interesting songs, way more interesting production. I listened to God Don’t Make No Junk hundreds of times, and my friend Will always said this was his favorite song.
07. “Dick About It” — M.O.T.O
M.O.T.O. is a really bizarre project from this guy named Paul Capporino who has been making music for 30 years or so. I caught him live probably eight years ago and he played for over an hour of non-stop incredibly catchy singalong songs. I bought as many of his records as I could and I wish I could write something half as catchy as he can.
08. “Bimbo’s Theme” — King Khan and BBQ Show
Goner Records has been putting on a fairly big garage rock fest for the past 10 years or so. At the very first one, I think I was 18, I caught a King Khan and BBQ Show performance. They were the first true free spirit freaks I had encountered making good music. BBQ – aka Mark Sultan – has the best voice in music I think. This particular song was a favorite of a girl I liked at the time.
09. “Doo Wa Ditty (Blow that Thing)” — Zapp and Roger
This song has been in my head since I was a little kid and I’d hear it on radio every now and then but I didn’t know who it was until a few years ago because I didn’t know any words.
10. “Two Faces Have I” — Lou Christie
My friends once started a cover band called “The Loose Christies” based around the fact that my friend Bennett does a dead-on Lou Christie impression. I was jealous I wasn’t involved so I started a rival cover band, “The Loose McCartneys”, that didn’t work out so well. This song reminds me of Bennett (later the singer of the Magic Kids).
11. “Feel Real Good” — Oblivians
I started getting into the Oblivians at the end of high school. Getting into the Oblivians and Goner Records marks a period in my life when I stopped going to hardcore/metal shows and started going to punk shows…basically when I started to drink.
12. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” — Bobby McFerrin
My dad had a VHS copy of this video and I watched it all the time. He doesn’t remember it, but I do. This song always cheers me up.
13. “Love is All Around” — The Troggs
This song reminds me of my first girlfriend because she loved that movie that all girls seem to like for some reason…Love Actually. They redid this song in that movie and that’s kinda the only part I liked.
14. “Feliz Navidad” — Jose Feliciano
My family recorded a Sesame Street On Ice special in the late 80′s or early 90′s that had this song playing with Big Bird skating around a hockey rink. We watched it every Christmas. I love this song.
15. “Happy Together” — The Turtles
This song reminds me of one of my all time favorite movies ever, Ernest Goes to Camp. When Ernest and the campers are preparing to go to war with the mining company they start singing this song together, then full on war happens. They launch turtle paratroopers, burn down construction equipment, and nearly kill everybody….but in the end Ernest prevails and saves the camp from destruction.
16. “The Chanukah Song” — Adam Sandler
When I was in 5th grade I had been dating a girl for several months when she broke up with me out of nowhere. About a week later my friend had a birthday party where he had a karaoke contest planned for the end of the party….after the dancing. Well, as I was probably hovering over the food table I noticed my best friend at the time dancing with my ex with her head on his shoulder! I lost my fucking mind, grabbed an entire hot pizza from the table, ran up to him, pushed him away from my ex and punched a scalding hot pizza into his face. Then I ran away and started crying hard. After a few hours of cooling down, it all ended up getting resolved. As the party came to end the karaoke contest started. I picked my favorite song at the time, Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah Song”, and no I’m not Jewish. I made it about halfway through the song, locked eyes with my beautiful ex, and started crying again.