When MTV premiered in 1981, it was astonishingly free form. You’d see a wide range of musical styles represented. New wave, rap, and heavy metal hadn’t taken over the mainstream yet, so there was still a lot of straight-up rock & roll interspersed between U2, Gary Numan, and Adam and the Ants videos. Had they existed back in the day, Brookyln’s three-piece Nude Beach would have been on heavy rotation.
The band sounds like they’d fit perfectly on the soundtrack to a never-released Amy Heckerling or Martha Coolidge movie from the early ’80s, successfully straddling that precipice between pure rock and power pop. This description might cause some to grumble about “Brooklyn hipsters” but Nude Beach’s three members—Chuck Betz, Jim Shelton, and Ryan Naideau—look and sound completely unpretentious. Sure they borrow heavily from the past, but when it’s done in such a non-self-conscious way, it’s refreshing.
Nude Beach’s newest album—called simply II—sounds like a Greatest Hits collection; every song could easily be a hit single. These dudes have a knack for hooks and sweet guitar riffs. And tambourines, lots of ‘em.
There’s some serious Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello damage going on in “Walkin’ Down My Street” while “Love Can’t Wait” bears more than a passing resemblance to Tom Petty circa “Waiting.” But overall, Nude Beach have their own distinctive sound, albeit one that doesn’t have much in common with what currently gets played on mainstream radio and whatever video channels are left in existence that actually play videos.
Although Nude Beach can certainly bring the foot stomping rockers, I particularly enjoy the somewhat slower tunes, like “You Make It So Easy,” “Keep It Cool,” and “Don’t Have To Try.” The faster tracks suffer from quite a bit of compression in the mix, so there’s not a whole lot of room to enjoy those sweet guitar riffs and tambourines. In the aforementioned songs, Betz’s voice shines and sounds remarkably like an American cousin of Jarvis Cocker, which is pretty great in my book.
Lyrically speaking, there are quite a few instances of “babe” and “baby” (the paramour version, not the one in diapers) that will likely read corny until you hear them in context where they make perfect sense. I’d love to hear this album remixed with some more dynamic range as the production here does a great disservice to their song craft. I’m going to bet, though, that Nude Beach is a kick-ass live band, so my advice is to pick up a copy of II and try and catch them on tour.
Nude Beach self-released II on March 6 of this year. Other Music Recording Co. released a second pressing of the album on August 14. It is available to purchase from the label’s website.
Wed, Aug 29 – Nude Beach / Naomi Punk (WA) – Death By Audio, Brooklyn
Tue, Sep 11 – Seattle, WA – 5010 House
Wed, Sep 12 – Vancouver, BC, Canada – Zoo Shop w/ Siren Songs, Sabertooth, Flagpolers
Thu, Sep 13 – Olympia, WA – TBA
Fri, Sep 14 – Portland, OR – Slabtown w/ Divers
Sun, Sep 16 – Oakland, CA – 924 Gilman Street w/ Huff Stuff Magazine, Tooth Soup
Mon, Sep 17 – San Francisco, CA – The Knockout w/ Yogurt Brain, Synthetic ID
Tue, Sep 18 – Los Angeles, CA – The Smell
Wed, Sep 19 – Pomona, CA – Vince Lombardi High School
Thu, Sep 20 – Tempe, AZ – Tempe Tavern
Fri, Sep 21 – Flagstaff, AZ – Cottage House
Sun, Sep 23 – Denver, CO – Mouth House
Mon, Sep 24 – Lander, WY – TBA
Tue, Sep 25 – Missoula, MT – Zoo City Apparel w/ Colleen Green, Plateaus
Wed, Sep 26 – Spokane, WA – TBA
Thu, Sep 27 – Seattle, WA – Black Lodge w/ Naomi Punk, M. Women