First Listen

WXPN Radio

The premier guide for new and significant artists in rock, blues, and folk - including NPR-syndicated World Cafe ®

XPoNential Radio

24/7 Musical discovery. A unique mix of emerging and heritage blues, rock, world, folk, and alt-country artists.

World Cafe Archives

Join David Dye as he navigates the World Cafe through live performances and interviews with celebrated and emerging artists.

Folk Radio

Folk music radio streaming on the web; Americana, Roots Music, recordings, and stories from folk's best.
Listen Live

First Listen

Enjoy previews of select, upcoming albums, in their entirety on FIRST LISTEN.

First Listen: Wavves, 'Afraid Of Heights'

Loading the player ...
Audio for this feature is no longer available.
As big-time bands go, Wavves started out a little undercooked: just a guy named Nathan Williams who made sloppy four-track garage-pop anthems with cheap equipment. Big-time hype followed quickly — a little too quickly for any new band's own good — and Wavves' sound has now spent a full four albums catching up amid onstage breakdowns, frequent lineup changes and the fickle tastes of its early supporters.
But, as the new Afraid of Heights demonstrates, there's a good band in there — a worthy heir to obvious influences from Nirvana to Green Day to Weezer, all of whom share Wavves' mix of self-flagellation and pop hooks. Wavves lacks its forebears' studio slickness, opting instead for a rougher and dirtier sound. But it follows a path that those bands have carved clearly, as Williams battles personal demons by wielding powerhouse choruses.
Still, if the tone of Afraid of Heights is any indication, those personal demons often win out. Even amid Wavves' peppiest arrangements, Williams exudes hopelessness: "We'll all die alone / just the way we lived" ("Sail to the Sun"), "No hope and no future / We'll die the same losers" ("Demon to Lean On"), "None of you will ever understand me" ("Lunge Forward") and so on. In an exact hybrid of Weezer and Nirvana, the title track functions as an anthem of alienation for kids who want to bum out like it's 1994 as Williams tunefully drones, "I'll always be on my own / F---ed and alone."
In the tradition of the bands that most clearly inspired him, Williams tends to direct his most scathing nihilism inward, and he only finds something approximating peace as Afraid of Heights reaches its conclusion: "I can finally sleep / but I can't dream." As Wavves' music evolves, it's easy to root for Williams to locate something approximating happiness, too.
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Audio: by

Click each song title for individual tracks, the last track is the album in its entirety.

Loading the player ...

Forget trying to classify them and just listen: Railroad Earth’s Session, and “Katie Cruel’s” importance in music, tonight on...

For the last handful of weeks on Folkadelphia Radio, we’ve been focusing on a featured song, digging a little into its history,...Read More

The ever-evolving Kite Party will celebrate their new record on May 8 at PhilaMOCA

On May 6, Kite Party will unveil their second full-length album, Come on Wondering. On May 8, they’ll celebrate with a record...Read More

Singer-songwriter Abi Reimold celebrates her EP release this Saturday at Hong Kong Garden

Philly-based songstress Abi Reimold – also a photographer and occasional contributor to The Key – will celebrate the...Read More

DRGN King, Family Vacation, Big Tusk, Ghost Gum and more scheduled to play show on Record Store Day at Vinyl Revival...

If you were already having a hard time planning out how you were going to celebrate Record Store Day on April 19, things just got a...Read More

Redbull’s Sound Select pairs Philly artists Embarker and Chris Forsyth with Oneohtrix Point Never

Redbull’s Sound Select monthly feature, showcases local artists across the country is bringing some additional recognition to...Read More