Part of me would rather be water boarded than hear another retro soul song from a young white kid in a skinny tie. So I ignored Nick Waterhouse when I first heard about him, even though he came co-signed by one of my favorite labels, Innovative Leisure, home to Mexicans with Guns, Hanni El Khatib, and Feeding People.
It wasn’t until I heard one of his songs on shuffle when I finally came around. “Is that Clear” was total deception — improperly tagged so I had no idea where it came from or whether it was new or old. All I knew is that it was making me do an awkward Elaine dance. That’s a good start. There’s no secret either. The Costa Mesa-born 24-year old is just a immaculate craftsman, lacing his cuts with Jerry Lee Lewis pianos, surf guitars, and unleaded drums. Ty Segall frequently records with him, as do the Allah-La’s, who might be the best 60s-leaning new band I heard this year.
Admittedly, the sound is spavined, but a good song is a good song. And there’s a sincerity in the anachronism of his compositions and character. He looks and writes like Buddy Holly and probably dates girls that look like Mary Tyler Moore. The LA Weekly did a nice job of capturing him in this feature that ran over the Summer. And should you be curious to hear the nasally vocal timbre of the person typing these words, I recently did my monthly segment on the Mary Anne Hobbs’ XFM show about Waterhouse. The podcast is available below. I’m directly before the Chris Cornell segment. Spoiler alert: he is the one with the smoother voice.