Music

The Nude Party: Sometimes Good Music Comes with a Funny Name

Photo: Sacha Lecca / Courtesy of New West Records

The Nude Party's songwriting is very good and they vary their '60s touchstones just enough to make their debut album lively and fun.

The Nude Party
The Nude Party

New West

6 July 2018

Let's start with the name. To paraphrase from their official Facebook bio: The Nude Party started as a band playing house parties at North Carolina's Appalachian State University. The band would jam and hang out with friends at their lake house, and frequently nudity was involved. They also regularly played in town at a party spot called the 505 House and the nudity continued at those gigs, often for the audience as well. When they got good enough to start playing actual bars and clubs, they officially named themselves the Nude Party (an easy identifier to the college kids of Boone, North Carolina), even though they essentially couldn't play naked anymore at that point.

It's been nearly five years since then, and the band is releasing their self-titled debut album. So they're affectionately sticking with the awkward yet striking band name and presumably hoping their potential audience will look past the name to listen to their music. And that's exactly what that potential audience should do, because The Nude Party is a really strong debut album.

The sextet makes simple songs heavily influenced by mid- to late '60s classic rock, with nods to country and its oft-forgotten partner, western. The great first single, the twangy, honky-tonk piano-infused "Chevrolet Van", is a good introduction to the band. Lead vocalist Patton Magee speak-sings "I got some free advice / Just the other day / From an old relative of mine", and goes on to describe the older man's intended to be helpful naysaying. Magee's disdain comes through both in his tone of voice and his word choice; "free advice" is particularly descriptive. The chorus sums up the advice. "You'll never make enough money / And no one cares about the things you say / You're gonna wake up someday / Man, you'll wish you got a job." Incidentally, the title of the song rang somehow false to me, so it's worth noting that the band just thought "Chevrolet" sounded better to sing. Like most low to mid-level touring bands in North America, the Nude Party actually uses a Ford Econoline van.

The honky-tonk piano also shows up on the sneakily post-apocalyptic "Feels Alright". Keyboardist Don Merrill pounds away on eighth notes while the band plays a joyful proto-Southern rock song with the simple chorus, "Whoa, it don't look good / But it feels alright." But the easy-to-ignore verses find Magee describing nuclear breezes, not being able to breathe outside, and nuclear winter-induced temperatures of -10 degrees. It's an interesting and effective juxtaposition.

That's it for piano on the album, though. For the record's other nine tracks, Merrill sticks to the organ, which only adds to the band's '60s rock feel. Some have affixed the Nude Party with the psych-rock label, which I find inaccurate, except for two notable exceptions. Opening song "Water on Mars" is a straightforward classic rock song. Two chiming guitars, simple drums, walking bass, and the organ lock in for three and a half minutes. But Magee's lyrics tackle the surreality of dreams, ending the chorus with, "My mind's a spigot and I'm starting to dig it." Then there's "Astral Man", where the band gets spacey for five and a half minutes. It's the only song on the album where the Nude Party stretches beyond its typical compact songwriting. Once the singing ends at the three-minute mark, the band picks up the tempo and jams out the final two minutes of the songs.

"War Is Coming" finds a midpoint between the Doors and Creedence Clearwater Revival with jangling guitars, omnipresent organ, and impassioned vocals. "Live Like Me" is a boogie-woogie track with a snarly guitar part and an organ riff on the chorus that echoes the iconic organ part from ? and the Mysterians' "96 Tears". The band dips its toe back into country with the laid-back "Records", which features prominent slide guitar and the music nerd chorus, "I don't need your love / I just need my records."

Near the end of the album, the band takes a genre left turn for a trio of distinctly southwestern flavored songs. "Gringo Che" tells a fractured version of the life of Che Guevara over a swirling guitar riff, with swaggering vocals and a heck of a closing guitar solo that ends a bit too quickly. "Wild Coyote" may be the album's most atmospheric song, with Austin Brose's percussion flourishes and Shaun Couture's reverbed, echoing guitar leads enhancing Magee's story of a Texas coyote smuggling people across the border. The record wraps up with the instrumental "Charlie's Sheep", another western-style track featuring strong guitar work from Couture and Magee. The band makes an interesting arrangement choice near the song's end, where Brose comes in in the background on a snare drum with the snares turned off, playing a quick, martial rhythm. It's an unusual sound for a rock band, and it really grabs the ear once you know to listen for it.

The Nude Party isn't going to blow any minds with its uniqueness. Their classic rock influences are all well-trod territory, but their songwriting is very good and they vary their '60s touchstones just enough to make the album lively and fun. Even though they keep the song structures very simple, the band members throw in a lot of subtle, interesting touches. For example, the band ostensibly has two guitarists, but "Chevrolet Van" includes four or five distinct guitar parts. These touches make the album rewarding on multiple plays, as listeners can pick up on details that aren't immediately apparent. That attention to detail bodes well creatively for the future of the Nude Party.

7
Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

The 12 Best Brian Wilson Songs

From massive hits to obscure, experimental pop compositions, Brian Wilson's music is always thoughtful, idiosyncratic, and as thrilling today as it was in the 1960s.

Music

Victoria Bailey's "Skid Row" Exemplifies the Bakersfield Sound (premiere + interview)

Victoria Bailey emerges with "Skid Row", a country romp that's an ode to an LA honky-tonk and the classic California Bakersfield sound.

Music

Activism Starts at Home: A Conversation with S.G. Goodman

Folk rocker S.G. Goodman discusses changing hearts and minds in the rural American South, all while releasing her debut album in the middle of a global pandemic. Goodman is a rising artist to watch.

Reviews

Shinichi Atobe's 'Yes' Sports an Appealing Electronic Eeriness

Despite its reverence for the roots of house music, an appealing eeriness blows through electronic producer Shinichi Atobe's Yes like a salty sea breeze.

Music

Irmin Schmidt Meets John Cage on 'Nocturne'

Irmin Schmidt goes back to his Stockhausen roots with a new live album, Nocturne: Live at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

Music

Country's Corb Lund Finds the Absurd in 'Agricultural Tragic'

On Corb Lund's Agricultural Tragic, he sings of grizzly bears, tattoos, hunting rats and elk, the meaning of author Louis L'Amour's fiction, and the meaning of life.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

How Aaron Sorkin and U2 Can Soothe the Pandemic Mind

Like Aaron Sorkin, the veteran rock band U2 has been making ambitious, iconic art for decades—art that can be soaring but occasionally self-important. Sorkin and U2's work draws parallels in comfort and struggle.

Reviews

Jockstrap's 'Wicked City' Is an Unfolding of Boundaries

On Wicked City, UK art-pop duo Jockstrap run through a gamut of styles and sounds, sometimes gracefully, sometimes forcefully, but always seductively.

Music

Chewing the Fat: Rapper Fat Tony on His Latest Work From Hip-hop's Leftfield

Fat Tony proves a bright, young artist making waves amongst the new generation of hip-hop upstarts.

Music

The Bobby Lees Strike the Punk-Blues Jugular on Jon Spencer-Produced 'Skin Suit'

The Bobby Lees' Skin Suit is oozing with sex, sweat and joyful abandon. It's a raucous ride from beginning to end. Cover to cover, this thing's got you by the short hairs.

Books

'Perramus: The City and Oblivion' Depicts Argentina's Violent Anti-Communist Purge

Juan Sasturain and Alberto Breccia's graphic novel Peraramus: The City and Oblivion, is an absurd and existential odyssey of a political dissident who can't remember his name.

Music

Daniel Avery's Versatility Is Spread Rather Thin on 'Love + Light'

Because it occasionally breaks new ground, Daniel Avery's Love + Light avoids being an afterthought from start to finish. The best moments here are generally the hardest-hitting ones.

Music

Khruangbin Add Vocals But Keep the Funk on 'Mordechai'

Khruangbin's third album Mordechai is a showcase for their chemistry and musical chops.

Music

Buscabulla Chronicle a Return to Puerto Rico in Chic Synthwave on 'Regresa'

Buscabulla's authenticity -- along with dynamite production chops and musicianship -- is irreplaceable, and it makes Regresa a truly soulful synthwave release.

Film

The Cyclops and the Sunken Place: Narrative Control in 'Watchmen' and 'Get Out'

Hollywood is increasing Black representation but Damon Lindelof and Jordan Peele challenge audiences to question the authenticity of this system.

Featured: Top of Home Page

'Breathing Through the Wound' Will Leave You Gasping for Air

As dizzying as Víctor Del Árbol's philosophy of crime may appear, the layering of motifs in Breathing Through the Wound is vertiginous.

Music

12 Essential Kate Bush Songs

While Kate Bush is a national treasure in the UK, American listeners don't know her as well. The following 12 songs capture her irrepressible spirit.

Music

Tatsuya Nakatani and Shane Parish Replace Form with Risk on 'Interactivity'

The more any notions of preconceived musicality are flicked to the curb, the more absorbing Tatsuya Nakatani and Shane Parish's Interactivity gets.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.