Band of the Day

2011.09.12

Nick Waterhouse

A faithful student of the roots of good old-fashioned rock and roll
Well, I can only give you love until the sun goes down.
lyrics from I Can Only Give You Everything

Nick Waterhouse is a 25-year-old musician/producer from San Francisco, California, who reinterprets the sounds and styles of '50s-'60s-era R&B and garage rock. Born and raised in Southern California, Waterhouse moved to San Francisco when he was 18 after falling in love with the city's thriving vinyl record and live music scenes. Drawing inspiration from his vintage record collection, Waterhouse's style showcases energetic blues vocals, vintage guitar tones, heavy sax sounds and staccato piano hits. Live, he is joined by his backup band The Tarots and backup singers The Naturelles. In the studio he has been known to work with garage rock "it boy" Ty Segall.

Recording entirely on vintage analog equipment at his recording studio in Southern California, Waterhouse self-released his debut vinyl single Someplace in 2010. The record sold out promptly, and led to Waterhouse's subsequent vinyl single Is That Clear on Stones Throw Records. Waterhouse is now signed to Innovative Leisure Records, who released his 2011 EP Is That Clear.

One glance at Nick Waterhouse—with his large, Buddy Holly-style glasses, waxed hair, and dapper suit—and you might think he's time travelled from the 1950s. One listen to his debut EP Is That Clear, and you'll be firmly convinced. But a time traveller he is not—Nick Waterhouse is a 25 year-old musician based out of San Francisco, who just happens to have a deep appreciation for the roots of American music. With songs like “Some Place,” it's evident that he's been a faithful student to the early days of blues-rock. It starts off with a scratchy, howling yelp from Waterhouse, followed by a hip-waggling, horn-heavy rhythm and prominent piano line. This is the song that will have red-lipped vixens shimmying their shoulders and showing off their treasured thrift store dresses. “Is That Clear” has more of a rockabilly feel. You can imagine a stereotypical 50s cool guy (with a pack of smokes folded in his shirt sleeve, cuffed jeans, and a greased pompadour) walking into a back-alley bar in Memphis, hitting his fist on a broken jukebox, and magically bringing the relic to life just to play this tune. It's the type of song that raises you up a few notches on the cool meter, just in the mere act of listening to it. “I Can Only Give You Everything” has a mellower-yet-sexy feel. Horns and handclaps from Waterhouse's backing group, The Tarots, percolate over “ba da dee wops” (courtesy of female backing vocalists, The Naturelles), as Waterhouse earnestly asks, “Why can't I get you to understand?” There's also an instrumental version of the track (one of two instrumental songs on the EP—the other being “That Place”). Perhaps the worst part about the EP is that it's only five tracks long, and leaves you immediately wanting more. When The White Stripes broke many hearts earlier this year after officially announcing their split, it seemed like the end of an era of good old-fashioned blues-rock revival. At least with musicians like Nick Waterhouse, the wound should gradually start to heal.