Cloud Nothings

March 4, 2016 11:26 am

Are YOU tired of waiting on some air to breathe? How about just waiting for something to work out all that teen angst raging inside you? Don’t lie to yourself. You know you feel it.

But it’s OK. Take a deep breath. And then turn on Drive North by SWMRS and rip your shirt off.

The Oakland, CA based pop-punk band has actually been around for a little while, but just recently settled on their name. You may have known them as Emily’s Army, The Raining Souls, The Clocks, or the phonetically simplistic Swimmers. While they were busy trading titles, they managed to record a couple albums, earing comparisons to Green Day’s early work. Which makes a lot of sense because Billy Joe Armstrong produced them (It’s also worth noting that SWMRS drummer Joe Armstrong has a bit of an in).


But considering they’ve changed names and producers since then, let’s just focus on their most recent effort Drive North. This time around they worked with FIDLAR lead vocalist Zac Carper, and the influence shows. The songs ”Harry Dean,” “Brb,” and “Uncool” fit right in with modern party punk bands like FIDLAR, PUP or Cloud Nothings. But Drive North also has a serious pop bent to it.  The anthemic “Figuring It Out” shows the band knows how to put together a real radio single, and the infectious “Miss Yer Kiss” and “Turn Up” almost venture into Owl City territory. While some of the lyrics are a bit wanting, the pop tunes lend a nice balance to the punk ones. This duality probably stems from the band’s two lead singer/songwriters, brothers Cole and Max Becker. There is a noticeable difference between the two’s voices and styles, but both brothers seem to embrace both sides of the band’s sound.

While a lot of people will probably favor one type of song or the other, Drive North features two slam dunks. Home Runs. Sure Bets. Two pieces of screamin’ good art that have come together to take over my life— “Miley” and “D’You Have a Car?”

Miley” is a stoner punk love song with huge dynamic range. The almost whispered verse yields to the massive chorus –

“You bring the bleach, I’ll bring chlorine. We can dye our hair a color that nobody ever seen. You’re a national threat and you’re messing with my head. Cause Miley you’re a Punk Rock Queen.”

Anyone that has found themselves falling for someone weird, different, or dangerous (or is Miley Cyrus and -let’s be honest- those kinds of people are the hottest so everyone knows what I’m talking about) can identify with that.

D’You Have a Car?” is also a stoner punk love song, but it’s less bout lust and infatuation and more about yearning and escape. If Blink 182 makes you get up and feel real good LISTEN TO THIS SONG.

“Are you tired of waiting on some air to breathe? Are you tired of me?…D’you got a car? D’you got a set of keys? Tell me where you’re going, is there room for me?”

UUUUUUUUUGHHHH, Yeah I know it’s super awesome.

Both of these songs manage something that is very hard to do – something that is essential to punk music. They speak simply of feelings that everybody has in words that everybody can understand. What’s impressive is that they manage to stuff these songs with classic punk imagery and archetypes in a way that is new and exciting. They’re not singing about anything different than The Ramones did, but it’s still fresh. When you add in SWMRS’s use of electronics –loops, samples, synths and other effects—the end result is a unique and modern punk sound.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go dump a bottle of peroxide on my head and drive off into the night with my head out the window, blasting “D’You Have a Car?” until I run out of gas.

October 30, 2015 4:25 pm

Nathan Williams has had quite the year. Between releasing “No Life For Me” and publicly feuding with his label, Williams somehow found time to bring us a new album in V.

wavves4V sacrifices none of the visceral, honest, SoCal influenced punk we have come to love Williams for on Life Sux and Afraid of Heights. If anything, it shows that Williams is now pandering to his strengths more than before. His hooks are tight while the drunkenly bright and hap-hazard vibe of his music is intentionally paired with lyrics about Williams’ struggle in life and love, and his grapple with the way things have apparently gotten worse since his 2011 Life Sux release.

Williams’ brand of pop punk blends hopeless nihilism with the 21st century struggle of “trying to have fun.” In the album’s opener “My Head Hurts”, Williams isn’t shy about shooting things deeply into his veins. From strictly a melodic standpoint, the song is bubbly, dancey and a gem of pop/surf/rock/punk. However, Williams asserts a lyrical dichotomy with lines like “I don’t exist” and “you’re killing me I hope you know,” and the songs main refrain “my head hurts/without you it’s worse”.

The same dichotomy is expressed on the track “Pony.” Aside from Williams obvious surf punk musical proclivity, he emulates the blind bravado and facade of confidence that is a trademark of 20 something year olds in America. His opening lyrics of “stupid and pretty self assured” and “hard to express, depressed and bored” are highly relatable sentiments. Williams taps into the snake person feelings of insecurity and isolation with his lyrics and your adolescent attempts to drown these feelings out with substance abuse are captured in his party fueled melodies. The lyric “open wide and insecure” reveals a generational awareness that makes V more substantial than Blink 182 for example, the pop punkers from a decade ago who drone on about nothing but their high school relationships.

The album art itself is representative of the futility that Williams feels, using the color scheme and common symbols on tarot cards, where something as simple as a fallen cup can represent how you are doomed for life. However, like someone who has received a grim tarot reading, Wavves knows he is doomed and chooses to ignore it. Perhaps he is even sending a message to have the fun you seek while you still can- regardless of the headaches, mental instability and insecurities. This album can only be described as throwing a party for the end of the world. Williams has confidence in his lack of confidence, and the results shine through on V.

Written by Alessandra Licul