Album Review: The Nude Party – Self Titled (Out July 6th)
The Nude Party (Out July 6th)
The Nude Party brings their spunky/rocky/twangy/psychedelic flower pop/60’s garage rock to the raw masses.
The story of how the band The Nude Party got their name is well documented, and honestly, at this point rather irrelevant. The band, recently signed to New West Records (Nikki Lane, American Aquarium), are about to release (on July 6th) their eponymous major label debut of eleven songs, and have been featured in Rolling Stone magazine, so the days, and resultant buzz, of playing nude house parties at Appalachian State U in Boone, NC are far behind them. Besides, when all this naked fun was going on I was already 10 years removed from my master’s degree, and therefore about a total of 12-13 years removed from the opportunity to attend a type of campus party that would have have a naked house band playing. (I went to Winthrop U anyway so my biggest claim to fame is seeing Hootie and The Blowfish when they were “South Carolina’s most progressive band” and no-names). Anyway, I came at The Nude Party the old fashioned way. I heard about them through my local venues and only saw them live because they opened for Sunflower Bean (whom I was covering live) recently in Charlotte. That was enough though. LIke the rest of the world is about to be when they hear the The Nude Party, I was hooked from the first song.
Many of us who came of age in the 90s, and championed what was most likely the last “rock revolution” with our listening tastes, earned our nascent musical education from a steady diet of listening to our parents’ old Rolling Stones and Beatles records. In my case The Dave Clark Five, The Turtles, The Animals (a personal favorite) and The Doors were also heavily featured in the canon of these early rock lessons. I suspect that The Nude Party’s members, although most likely closer to half my age than my current age, were either exposed to the same or are old enough souls that that era of music somehow influenced them as well. Or maybe they just recognize the relevance and spirit of revolution those aforementioned bands embodied. Either way, the type of retro-rock that they themselves make has the sound and feel of those bands, with a little more of a party band sound bent. None of the songs are typical “party anthems” though. The closest to that type of rock on the album is “Chevrolet Van.” Even this paean to rock n’ roll youthful carefree (or careless) abandon is tinged with the type of old soul reflection that keeps it from becoming a true rejection of adulthood responsibility. Yeah, lead singer Patton Magee takes swipes at bankers and their life advice, but just as equally muses that “When you’re too old to play/Man, you’ll wish you got a job.” That is unless, of course, you hit the big time, like The Nude Party appears poised to do.
It’s this sense of fun mixed with sagacity that makes The Nude Party such a compelling listen beyond its retro 60’s garage rock stylings. The addition of some legitimate country twang and 60s psychedelica give that compelling listen some serious depth. There is a little 60s like commentary as well going on here and there as well to augment that depth. Any serious 60s sounding band would invalidate themselves if they didn’t engage in at least a little hidden protest. “War Is Coming,” while being nowhere near the hard rock that The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” is, still conjures the same spirit of condemnation. The band’s most recently released single, “Records” shows the band dabbling in the country twang that The Stones often experimented with. This twang pops up more here though than it did anywhere in The Stones catalogue. The Stones were steeped in the blues, and The Nude Party, hailing from The American Southeast, while not quite steeped in, definitely display a stronger affinity for country music sounds. Just as equally though, and maybe this is The Doorsian influence at work here, desert noir makes more than one appearance. “Gringo Che” is the most Doors-like track, laced with organ and wide open bluesy guitar riffs, but “Wild Coyote,” one of the album’s standout tracks, displays the strongest desert noir bent of any song on the album. The song starts in the desert with its opening riff, but suddenly and brilliantly moves further west and hits the waves when the lead guitar lines suddenly morph into Ventures-like surf guitar riffs. Throughout the song, the band oscillates between desert noir and surf guitar stylings, all while Magee sings about meeting a “kid in Frisco/Sisco was his name” who “gets stoned so I can go insane,” and a “God who doesn’t care/and doesn’t understand/what it is to be a man.” It’s not exactly the party anthem one might expect after hearing “Chevrolet Van” earlier on the album, yet “Wild Coyote” isn’t weighted down by the deep philosophizing that creates too many negative waves. The Nude Party is here to party, but not to abandon all reason, or observation.
Immediately, after “Wild Coyote,” the band goes full on psychedelic with “Astral Man.” It’s here that Magee conjures his best stoned Morrison vibe, but it’s the Ringo Star-ish drumming and chorus of wavering guitar riffs and organ that launches the listener into a lava lamp/rear projection inkblot screen-like astral state of visualization when listening to the song with your eyes closed through your headphones. It’s going to be a hell of a live show stopper when they are playing arenas with a full on light show live. It’s the type of song that works just as well as an intimate listen as it will live.
Many of the songs on The Nude Party were played live by the band when I caught them live opening for Sunflower Bean. I didn’t know most of the songs at that time, but their performance was so sharp and keen that immediately recognized them when I spun up The Nude Party’s LP after picking it up at the show. The band is just as solid on record as they are live. No studio magic going on here. The band lived together and played together for over half a decade, and it shows. Their moves live, even on the relatively small stage that graces Snug Harbor in Charlotte, were flawless and on point. The Nude Party’s future, as rooted in the past as their sound might be, is wide open and full of potential. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us on future albums.