Following my recent chat with Nathan Williams, and having followed his career for more than half a decade this point, one thing seems clear: his impending release with Wavves, V, which is due out on October 2, will be a critical and commercial breakthrough for himself and his bandmates.

In 2015, Williams has looked like a world-beater and there is no reason that the success should slow down, with singles such as 'Way Too Much','Flamezesz' and 'Heavy Metal Detox' pointing toward the most focused and accomplished Wavves effort to date.

But as the band begins to pick up traction and gain a larger audience, some may wonder where to initiate an exploration of the group's discography. Thankfully, we have you covered.


'King Of The Beach'

Unlike most of these playlists where I try to go in chronological order so that listeners can get a sense of the band's development over time, it is probably best to start on Wavves' third record, 2010's King Of The Beach. After two extravagantly no-fi affairs (which will be visited later on in this list), Williams enlisted the help of Stephen Pope and Billy Hayes, the former compatriots of the late Jay Reatard, to make his first studio record. The result of that partnership was sunny, summery punk bliss that wasted no time in asserting itself, as four snare cracks sound the beginning of the record's first song and title track. "You're never gonna stop me!" is a powerful lyric for any song, but especially for this one as it allowed Williams to announce that he was here to stay even after a much-publicized incident at the 2009 Primavera Festival. 'King Of The Beach' remains my go-to song for introducing people to Wavves because it is so damn fun and catchy, but it is important to remember that, upon its release, it was a powerful reminder that Williams was not a fluke.

'Super Soaker'

Immediately following up 'King Of The Beach' is the jazz-chord infused 'Super Soaker.' With a practically indecipherable chorus (is it "Bill Clinton hula hoops?" Or is it "spilled glitter through the roof?" In all honesty, Williams has confirmed that it is "we'll cruise," but that's a lot less funny) and one of Williams' catchiest guitar riffs, 'Super Soaker' has become a mainstay of the band's live performances, even if the crowd cannot quite agree on the lyrics.


Just over a year after King Of The Beach, Wavves returned with a rollicking six track self-released EP entitled Life Sux. The lead single, 'Bug,' features Williams directing a supreme level of disdain upon some jackass who likes to ruin good times for him and his friends. To some it may seem vapid, but to legions of young people, these are the problems that inhabit their lives. Couple that with a deliciously fuzzy guitar tone that evokes the best of Dinosaur Jr. and you have a top-notch Wavves track.

'Poor Lenore'

While many would likely pick a few different songs over this one, 'Poor Lenore' has long been a personal favorite. A prelude to the grunge and '90s alternative sounds that would dominate much of 2013's Afraid Of Heights, the thunderous roar of the track's guitars snarl and growl as Williams delivers one of his most emotive and evocative vocal performances of his career. "Night terrors won't leave me alone, they won't leave me alone," he howls. "Although I love to walk you home, they won't leave me alone." It is simple, yet haunting and visceral. I count this as one of the most underrated songs in the band's catalogue, especially considering that I'm not sure it has ever been performed live, but hopefully it finds a few more fans as time goes on.

'Demon To Lean On'

Evoking Cobain and Cuomo, 'Demon To Lean On' is the band's highest-charting single to date, peaking at #36 on the Billboard's Alternative Songs chart in the US. The track also earned them their network television debut on the Late Show with David Letterman. The power chord-laden anthem, which was released as a part of Afraid Of Heights, was packed with just enough angst and beauty to make this one of the band's most popular songs.

'Lunge Forward'

The most underrated track from Afraid Of Heights was unquestionably this one, 'Lunge Forward'. A relentlessly chugging chord progression propels the song forward at a dance worthy clip while Williams' existential and nihilistic vocals are at their very catchiest. "None of you will ever understand me, none of you will ever understand," he sings before shouting, "I hope it kills us all!" Dread, death and destruction has never sounded quite so appealing.

'Hippies Is Punks'

Released as a single for Adult Swim and tacked on to Afraid Of Heights as an iTunes bonus, 'Hippies Is Punks' was a noticeable precursor to the power pop sounds that seem poised to dominate V. However, the soft-loud-soft formula that worked so well throughout the '90s is still present here, making it an appropriate bridge between the two eras of Wavvey goodness. And while Wavves has a reputation for implementing plenty of "oohs" in their tracks, the bridge of this one might have the best deployment of that trick. Oh, and the guitar solo at the end is sexy as all hell.


No Life For Me, the much-anticipated collaboration between Wavves and Cloud Nothings that dropped at the end of June this year, featured a blistering 22 minutes of blaring guitars and ceaselessly catchy hooks. Both bands had developed a reputation for writing tight, strong tracks that were indisputable foot tappers. But where the talents of Williams and Cloud Nothings leader Dylan Baldi best synced up was on 'Nervous', which features a swirling blend of post-punk and pop-punk that will get caught up in your head potentially forever. The anthemic chorus that concludes the track, as the two vocalists sing, "I need to promise you that I will not go far, I feel my nervousness, but nothing's good alone," is one of the best that either songwriter has ever come up with.

'Cool Jumper'

After the breakout success of his second LP, but before the release of King Of The Beach, Williams teamed up with indie drum master and eventual-Death Grips founder Zach Hill. The collaboration was eventually scrapped, but a few tracks trickled out, either in the moment or as time wore on. The best of these, and perhaps still the most experimental Wavves song to date, is 'Cool Jumper'. Utilizing Hill's penchant for tinny, asymmetrical percussion and synth-soaked textures to fill the typically lo-fi background, this near six-minute track soars and grips, never once failing to capture the listener's attention. Touching upon the self-destructive behavior that nearly ended Williams' career before it could even begin, it was also one of his most revealing songs at the time. And now, more than six years on, it remains one of his very best.

'So Bored'

It was in 2009 that the hype machine started swirling around Nathan Williams. His 2008 debut, Wavves, was quickly followed up by a record made around the same time, Wavvves. The extra "v" was practically the only difference between the two, at least in terms of style, as both were exceedingly lo-fi. Around the time of their release, people were apparently confused as to whether or not their purchase had been screwed up, but nope, that is how the records sounded. It is certainly an acquired taste, which is why I've saved selections from them for the end, but they are both wonderful records. However, of the two, Wavvves certainly had more refined songs. The deceptively sad 'So Bored' was immediate proof of that. Channeling the ennui and malaise of teenage living that drove him to make the records to begin with, Williams touches on something very real to most adolescents. The drain and pain of boredom may seem trivial at first, but juxtapose it with imagery of being bullied and not fitting in, and 'So Bored' becomes an extremely relevant touchstone for those who feel out of place.

'To The Dregs'

The deafening chords on 'To The Dregs' help Williams to carry his heart on his sleeve during this noteworthy cut, also taken from Wavvves. He tells himself to "look forward to the sun" and that he doesn't care even as the person who has broken his heart sees him around. It is a situation relatable to most everyone and it is conveyed by Williams with genuine emotion that should resonate with everyone as well.

'No Hope Kids'

On the track that still often closes their shows, Williams hollers, "got no friends, got no family, just a bunch of people all talking around me." This deeply ironic take on teen apathy shreds along with the mountain of distortion unable to obscure Williams' enormous pop song chops. His ode to the disaffected youth of America remains one of his most popular songs and for due reason: it is a booming banger of a track that channels something very human.