Vinyl Vlog 478

Vinyl Vlog 478

Friday, 29 January 2021
‘Nashville Record Company’ from the Midnight Manor LP by The Nude Party.

A deeper look at the grooves pressed into the Midnight Manor LP by The Nude Party. After seeming to just pour significant step after step on the public over the last two years or so (two singles and an LP, all of which made a hell of a lot of noise, in some circles), the release of Midnight Manor may find some listeners soured by the fact that Midnight Manor feels a little more subdued in tone – but it will have others gasping in satisfaction. The reason for that is simple: this time out, Nude Party ignores the rock-pop which characterized the sound of their previous releases and boldly dives into other colors as well as other tones. The depth of Midnight Manor is spectacular, as a result; over the course of the album’s dozen cuts, the band collects itself and attempts to show those who were won by their previous output what they’re really made of.

As “Lonely Heather” opens Midnight Manor, it is with an explosion which comes from a different kind of Nude Party. There, with an energy which cross-wires the punky power and energy that Green Day showcased on Father of all Motherfuckers (which Green Day said themselves was intended to illustrate an older rock n’ roll inspiration) with the rhythm n’ alt-blues feel of Eagles of Death Metal, the Nude Party leaves jaws hanging open as the band sprints along, completely lean and electrified. Here, keyboardist Don Merrill patters furiously like an all-rhythm-focused Jerry Lee Lewis while drummer Connor Mikita, bassist Alec Castillo and guitarist Shaun Couture rip through changes which feel as though they’ve been dosed heavily with speed. Within the song’s three minute running, the band feels as though they might be setting records as they tear their way along and, on top of that charge, singer/guitarist Patton Magee presides, screeching his way along like David Byrne as he was given to sounding in the Seventies; all gritted teeth and rhythmic chatter. Needless to say, Midnight Manor starts infectiously – and that the band is able to get every listener within earshot to jump aboard with them in spite of appearing unlike what fans would have expected speaks volumes to how good it sounds.

After “Lonely Heather” sets a tone for the album, Nude Party immediately follows that opening by adding depth to the sound with “Pardon Me, Satan,” a much more methodically-paced movement than its predecessor. Maracas and a rolling bass line color “Pardon Me Satan” in a manner which straddles the signature sound of The Turtles (and the sound of Sixties pop in San Francisco – by extension)and The Rolling Stones in that there is a smooth swagger unavoidably present in the song’s rhythm section as well as a sly wit; when Magee lets lines like, “Oh lord don’t tempt me now/ While I’m weak and considering sin/ Please pardon me Satan/ Because I’m a drunk and you know I’ll give in” escape his lips, there’s a self-aware smirk about their delivery which implies that the period of worry about the singer has long since passed.

An incredibly nasal bass tone powers the slick and snide come-on that is “Cure Is You” which then falls into the very Bowie-esque “Easier Said Than Done” and the dark depression of “Shine Your Light” fill out the running of the side well enough as it progresses, but pale pitifully in comparison to the side-closer, “What’s The Deal.” There, it’s very possible to hear the band trimming up loose or ragged edges with major chord changes and a well-compressed performance, and the final crash of the song ensures that no decision about whether or not to continue with the B-side of the album needs making; the sugar with which “What’s The Deal” is encrusted leaves a sweet aftertaste and will definitely leave listeners wanting more.

The B-side of Midnight Manor picks up precisely where the A-side left off as, with a swinging rhythm not far off of Bowie’s “Young Americans”, The Nude Party strolls along defiantly with “Cities.” There, the honky guitar tone pushes an urban vibe, and the understated piano lick (which sounds more than a little like the piano tinkling in Iggy and The Stooges’ “Gimme Danger”) gives the song a fantastic slink which is impossible to deny. That tone and movement bleeds easily over into “Thirsty Drinking Blues” too, and culminates with the sort of romantic, harmonica-touched, afternoon delight which is “Time Moves On.” There, very dramatic rhythms paint an image in a very similar manner to how Black Lips have been assembling their records recently (with less raucous power and more thematic drama), but still manage to win listeners with a fantastic overall performance.

After “Time Moves On” bows out, Nude Party recovers the energy they had relinquished and honks their way happily through “Judith” before weeping through the solid love lost lament “Things Fall Apart” and then powering tightly through “Nashville Record Company.” It would be impossible to call “Nashville…” anything other than an imaginative indictment of the music industry (check out the wry delivery of lines like, “They don’t come to make sense, they come to make dollars/ Need a guitar player, handsome but none too smart/ They’re not here to relate, they’re here to move records/ I’ll steal and borrow and blow my way up the charts,” and try to contend that there’s no vitriol about it), but the delivery is just too damned charming to not fall in love with it – even when Patton Magee promises that he’ll, “be a hip cat with a big fat salary,” he leaves listeners warmly as the record closes and the needle lifts from it.

Standing back from Midnight Manor after the proverbial needle has lifted from it, listeners will find that taking stock of what we’ve heard from the album is no easy feat. After blasting through one full-length album and a series of smaller releases, The Nude Party really established itself as a fun, “good time” band (which meant that, by extension, there might not be a whole lot to them, beneath their candy-coated surface); their music was great, but hollow at its core. Midnight Manor completely upends that impression – with this album, The Nude Party proves that there is actually a tremendous amount of substance about them which has only begun to be unlocked. Midnight Manor leaves a lot of possibilities in its wake – and listeners will find themselves waiting with baited breath to see what will come next, after they hear this. [Bill Adams]


The Nude Party’s Midnight Manor LP is out now. Buy it here on Amazon.

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