Category Archives: Bloggeratti

The Curious Case of Nathan Williams

Or why we can’t let the indie rock media turn Wavves into AltJesus

You graduate from college in 2008. The economy is the worst that it’s been for years, and right when you need to find a job. Living at home with your parents seems like a good, rent-free option, and you can work at your local record store. But you’re too bored, sitting around all day smoking weed and playing video games. You decide to mess around on your guitar, record a few tracks on your Macbook, and show them around to friends.

Your friends on Woodsist put out a tape of your music. Then, on October 2nd, there’s a small blurb on a big blog called Gorilla vs. Bear. It posts an mp3 and says the following:

“Wavves is a kid from San Diego named Nathan Williams. He is a fan of the Beach Boys, Beat Happening, and the Wipers, and that good taste is reflected on the fuzzy ‘beach punk’ slacker anthem ‘So Bored.’ Wavves recently put out a cassette-only release that has since sold out, but it will be available again soon in LP format on Fuck It Tapes. A follow-up — featuring this song — is due in early ’09 on De Stijl, so look for that.”

Seven months later, you wake up in Spain, call your mom, and tell her that your set at the Primavera Sound Festival went pretty well last night, because you were so messed up that you don’t actually remember that your drummer dumped a beer on your head and you got booed offstage. Your behavior at that festival becomes one of the most-discussed matters on the Internet in just a few hours. From people saying it was awful to totally punk rock, everyone was talking about it, even just to say that it’s stupid that everyone’s talking about it.
If you’re a reader at this site, it’s probably pretty obvious what I’m talking about by now. You know the story. Kid makes tape in his bedroom, and one year later has a very public meltdown at one of the biggest music festivals in Europe, on the front page of every major music website. In between, Wavves received “Best New Music” on Pitchfork, a glowing review in the New York Times, and was the toast of the town at SXSW. The typical backlash came along with all that success, fueled by the coverage of Williams’ meltdown and general claims that he’s a talentless, ungrateful rich kid.

There’s a lot to say about this incident, and most of it has already been said. “Who cares?” seemed to be the biggest consensus. “Blogs have too much power.” “Lo-fi music is terrible.” “Wavves is totally rock and roll.” Reactions ran the gamut, and this article is probably redundant in many senses. But the thing that brought this up for me, yet again, is the interview of Wavves during the Pitchfork Music Festival, which showed up on the front page of Pitchfork last week. This was only after Pitchfork posted a revealing interview with Wavves about his breakdown a few weeks before. This paragraph was particularly revealing:

“Yeah. In the end, the whole reason I left, I guess, was because it got to a point where it became so stressful and there were so many people whispering in my ear. It just got so big so quickly. I think maybe I realized it, and it freaked me out a little bit. Obviously, I handled it in the worst way possible, but it was just… I don’t know. It’s weird because it’s kind of like a personal thing, and then these business-y things are all kind of tangled in it. It’s weird to say when it is fun and when it isn’t fun. And if it isn’t fun, I guess I shouldn’t really be doing it anymore. But I do love doing it, and it is fun. But with every good, there is a bad part of it.”
Ryan Schreiber writes a seething “news” piece about Wavves’ behavior at the festival. The tone is almost of a betrayed father chastising his son for a night of too much drinking and the subsequent mistakes he made. The article creates a fervor about this now-infamous “Wavves meltdown.” This then allows them to post that incredibly personal interview quoted above, where Wavves cluelessly atones for being young. Then, somehow, Wavves ends up playing one of his first shows back at Pitchfork’s own music festival. Not to mention another recent headline on Pitchfork’s site that reported Williams broke his wrist in a skateboarding accident. A lo-fi artist breaks their wrist, and that’s front page news next to Jay-Z and Coldplay. Pitchfork and the rest of the music media builds Wavves up to knock him down, only to benignly forgive him and “allow” him back into the fold. I don’t mean to take away Wavves’ agency here; he’s obviously making decisions and continues to work with Pitchfork. But, Pitchfork has acted incredibly poorly, and ought to be held more responsible for their actions.

This is tabloid scum at its very worst. Pitchfork profits off of their own schizophrenic coverage of Wavves. Just because he’s awarded “Best New Music” does not give a media outlet the right to dress up an opinion piece as news. It was a piece that ultimately turned out to be beneficial but could have been career ruining, all because of one concert during which a 22-year-old rocker got too drunk. The most recent reporting on Pitchfork, regarding Wavves, vaguely absolving him from his actions in Barcelona merely because he was sober at Pitchfork’s own festival, is absolutely unacceptable. Indie music lovers need to hold their media outlets responsible, and make sure that we don’t let our favorite musicians become J-Lo and Ben Affleck. The cycle of building a star up just to break them has been going on since the beginning of time, and it’s gotten even worse with blog backlash, but the paternalistic, hegemonic feel of Pitchfork is starting to go too far.

The lesson in all of this? I suppose in the end, we should look towards Williams. He’s probably back in his bedroom, smoking weed, playing video games, and fucking around on his guitar working on his next release. I suspect, like most 22-year-olds I know, he never expected to be famous within the span of a year, and is just along for the ride. Ultimately, the best course of action seems to be to ignore these media stories. Don’t repost them on your own blogs. Don’t judge artists based on these media-spun events. Just enjoy the music. And in that case, this article should end as quickly as possible. Just forget I even mentioned it.

– Madalyn Baldanzi


On This Thursday In BTR-land…


Billy WorleyHere’s what’s going on today at BTR:

DJ Lottie BTR: DJ Lottie brings you the best of our library on this fine Thursday, with a sick nasty playlist that includes Hallelujah The Hills, Brett Dennen, Wolf Parade, Of Montreal, and The Silver Seas.

Double Lock Your Mind: A big welcome to our newest DJ, The Surgeon General! Make sure to check out BTR’s BRAND NEW SHOW, focusing on fringe and experimental music, all by bands who are not afraid to try new musical styles and keep readers on their toes. On the first playlist: th’ faith healers, kinski, arthur russell, the warlocks, and the legendary shack shakers.

Dapper Fitting Drinking Hour: Start your weekend a little early with DJ Latola’s fab playlist filled with tunes from Boards of Canada, Samadha, All India Radio, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, and Caribou. Be sure to send good thoughts and cheer to your host, he’s still recovering from a bad cold!

The Bloggeratti: This week, be sure to check out Rachelandthecity’s interview with special guest Tim Regan of Snowglobe and Antenna Shoes. Tim shares two exclusive new songs: Summer’s End from Antenna Shoes and Testosterone from Snowglobe.

Reggae Hour: DJ Drew brings you a very special Christmas edition of the Reggae Hour, with acts such as Culver City Dub Collective, Jacob Miller, Eek A Mouse, and The Heptones set to brighten your afternoon.

Billy Worley

Billy Worley & The Candy Company

Live @ the Hitone: Tune into this special from Rachelandthecity, to catch the world premiere of Billie Worley & The Candy Company!

Thursday, December 13 is for New Crunk City

Shout Out Louds
DJ Lottie BTR – Get that same feeling you do when you put new shoes on for their first big day…kind of like giving birth, eh. Of course without all the pain because DJ Lottie brings the soothing sounds of Argyle Johansen, DNTEL, Grizzly Bear, Bedouin Soundclash, Shout Out Louds, and BTR Artist of the Week, Bad Veins.

Dapper Fitting Drinking Hour – Because there’s a difference between drinking hour and drinking day…DJ Latola has whittled down the best partying music to a fitting 62:55 minutes. Comprised of The Dynamites, Tokyo Police Club, Sufjan Stevens, Phonetic, Bad Veins, Velveteen Pink, and others, this set will have you laid out before you even touch the hard stuff.

The Bloggeratti – DJ Rachelandthecity delivers new tracks from Young Agent Jones as well as music from The Nobility, Apollo Up!, Illinois, and more. Also, be sure to listen for an exclusive interview with BTR Artist of the Week, Bad Veins. There’s so much going on here you’ll think you’re watching TV.
Young Agent Jones

Reggae Hour – DJ Drew brings you Zenzile, Slightly Stoopid, Skream, Bad Brains, Warrior King, Gregory Isaacs, The Upsetters, and 10ft. Ganja Plant. Don’t just kick out the jams, but ride them all the way to the weekend because when you’re high…you gotta get low.
The Third Man
Live @ the Hitone – DJ Rachelandthecity unleashes another stellar live performance, this week from Memphis band The Third Man. Formerly known as Augustine, these guys really know what the fuck they’re doing. Be sure to take a peek at Rachelandthecity’s playlist for more info.

Thursday, November 22 is for everything but

Just a reminder. Remember that with the “Download” button on the BTR radio player, all BTR shows are downloadable for convenient placement in most digital music playing devices.
Mouthful of Bees
DJ Lottie BTR – DJ Lottie wishes all a Happy Thanksgiving with a special treat today. Lottie’s brought together the most apropos of songs given the day’s holiday occasion. Warm up with “Red Fire” by Fever Marlene, share the love with “The Spirit of Giving” by The New Pornographers, and indulge in “Apple Pie” by Bugs in the Dark. Just take a look at the set list for this season’s best offerings.

Dapper Fitting Drinking Hour – DJ Latola will make sure you complete the holiday trifecta with songs to keep the turkey-induced slumber at bay. Eat, drink, and be merry with tunes from CSS, Edmund Cake, Malajube, Nervous Cabaret, Of Montreal, Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad, and plenty more to get that jive turkey ass shakin’!

The Bloggeratti – Hear 5 picks from this week’s guest blogger, Patrick Duffy, of the Poptartssucktoasted blog. DJ Rachelandthecity’s got additional music from Poison Control Center, The Callen Sisters, Camphor, The Lisps, and Mouthful of Bees.

Reggae Hour – DJ Drew gets you your reggae and dub fix without fail, as always. With songs from Feel the Pulse, John Brown’s Body, High Tone, Thievery Corporation, Kulcha Knox, and plenty more you may not be able to sit still long enough for a decent meal.
Live @ The Hitone – This one will really get your Thanksgiving juices flowing. In the giving spirit, today’s set comes from a Live from Memphis benefit performed at The Hitone. And the main attraction: the Subteens! Caution: BTR is not responsible for any punk rock-induced food fights that may result.

Thursday, November 8 is for dogs with sweaters

Portugal. The Man
Give yourself a good kick in the ass with DJ Lottie BTR hosted by none other than DJ Lottie, herself. No need to fret if asses aren’t your thing; the sounds of Band of Horses are aplenty as are those of The Panderers, Arizona, and Portugal. The Man.

It’s Thursday and all downhill from here. Whether you’re chilling or dancing, BTR Reggae Hour is sure to get you into the right mindset for the weekend (if not a bit too early). Begin coasting with DJ Drew’s selections from Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad, The Meditation, Roots of Creation, and the legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Live from The Hitone Café, it’s The Secret Service live!!! Skip the half-eaten King-size Snickers and indulge in this leftover Halloween treat that’ll leave your ears reeling. DJ Rachelandthecity funnels the body-rumbling sounds of Phil Lynott’s dream band straight to your face…Freddy Krueger masks provide little protection.

Black Kids
If that’s not enough (is it ever, really?) do double time with DJ Rachelandthecity on The Bloggeratti – Blog World Edition. Black Kids, The Brunettes, and De Novo Dahl highlight Rachelandthecity’s visit to the BlogWorld convention in blog capital of the world of course, Las Vegas.

RachelandtheCity Does Lollapalooza!

You know what else makes BTR so badass?  Our very own DJ, Rachel of RachelandtheCity, the Bloggeratti & 10 Degrees of Memphis was the official blogger for last weekend’s Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, Illinois.  Be sure to check out some of her AWESOME interviews with both performers and bloggers straight from the Festival itself.  Be sure to check it out here:  SPECIAL LOLLAPALOOZA EDITION

A preview:  RachelAndTheCity interviews Ted Leo, Matt Jordan, Tim Delaughter,Sean Kirkpatrick, and Chris Archibald, live from Chicago!

And pictures:

Ted Leo

A lovely chat with Ted Leo

Polyphonic Spree

The Polyphonic Spree

Rachel Hurley and Sean Kirkpatrick

RachelandtheCity interviews Sean Kirkpatrick

Chris Archibald

Chris Archibald from Illinois popped into the booth for a chat.

BOTW: Lots of Lists!

Hey guys,

This week’s Blogger of the Week is Ekko from Berkeley Place.  He’s got a series of lists for your pleasure, starting with yesterday’s “The Best Indie EP’s“.   Today, Ekko’s presenting his picks for the top indie singles of 2007 (so far).  Check it out and see if your favorite songs made it onto his list by clicking here.

Also, a bit of exciting news!  This week’s BTR blog show from Rachel and the City, “Bloggeratti” features special guest Alex Blagg from VH1’s Best Week Ever.  BTR scored a pretty sick nasty shoutout on the Best Week Ever blog last week.  Check it out here: LISTEN UP: Blagg Thru Radio. Thanks, Alex!