Good Enough For Jack, Good Enough For Me: A Listen To LP Midnight Manor By The Nude Party

A pal claimed that I might like the The Nude Party on account of Jack White and The Arctics holding them in high esteem and showering them with admiration. I was all ears, and they were correct. Having supported both said outfits, a buzzing potion began to swirl and from word of mouth alone their first self-titled album gained momentum and airplay despite not having official UK press.

The savvy six, Patton Magee, Shaun Couture, Alec Castillo, Connor Mikita, Don Merrill and Austin Brose, met North Carolina’s Appalachian State University, where earning their keep with various groundskeeping tasks at a property in the Catskills, meant they could practice till the cows came home so to speak in their spare time, and make their band the one that it is today.

Much like Fontaines D.C. and the victory of Dogrel, hectic hype brought with it a heavy touring schedule, including prestigious festivals such as Lollapalooza and All Points East, which took its toll and zapped away the lad’s creative energy. Stress, pressure, and internal turmoil were not eased; several members experienced aching heartbreak through this period. As a means to let of all that out and heal the cracks, second album Midnight Manor, released on October 2nd via New West Records, was born. Frontman Patton Magee says,

“If I had to think about a long-term goal for this band, it would be to just exist, and exist in a purposeful way.” He continues, “And in 10, 20 years? I want to be onstage and still be surrounded by my friends. So we’ll just continue to do what we know how to do, and what we love to do. I know that’s easier said than done”—to quote the title of a rollicking, raucous Midnight Manor track— “but that’s what’s important to us.”  

Recorded live-to-tape over six days at the Outlier Inn at New York, the twelve songs capture that unrefined jamboree spirit where the garage is substituted for the barn. John Agnello mixed the record, and even though some of the songs ache, it’s such a gleeful, celebratory piece of work. With no pause for breath, quick keys full of life open us up with Lonely Heather, the gal that everyone desires, but she’s no one’s fool. The propulsive sound is full, each instrument complementing each other, garnished with fun lyrics: “I just had to call ya, one time, two times, three times, let's do it again yeah!"

Ah, splendid castanets come to my ears in Pardon Me Satan, rhythmically echoing Gene Pitney’s 24 Hours form Tulsa, where couples will be twirling merrily on the dance floor, and unconventional track Cure Is You explores some out there remedies for sure until it’s decided “The only cure is you” creating a sexy rather than sweet love song with sultry bass throughout. Retro Easier Said Than Done picks up The Velvet Underground and drops them slap bang in the middle of Austin for this output of fun. The voice here and throughout the LP suits that tape-recorded vintage quality.

Romance is not dead in late-night number Shine Your Light: a session of worship: “You are the light in the lonesome dark” and an introduction to my beloved sythns. A rounded sound where all are involved returns from the start for What’s The Deal. ‘All in it together’ backing, brass that soars into oblivion, and the traditional organ guide us to a tender middle eight as the song then lifts once more. A bit of attitude and shade is given in the next two numbers, Cities and Thirsty Drinking Blues. In Thirsty, harmony is held all the way, and a bit of Stones inspiration is thrown in for good measure: “Now I’m drinking with me again, instead of drinking with you."

A moment’s reflection comes in a Time Moves On in 'an end of night', 'last song on the jukebox' kinda way. It’s gorgeously sad, one of my favourites, acting as sandwich with the T-Rex sprinkled Judith in the middle. The bottom bread is Things Fall Apart: another sorrowful emission about the end of a relationship, but they have been here before, every word heard clearly. Our last destination Nashville is a mid-tempo choice, not a weepy and not a banger; it gives a serene air with cute aspirations: "I’m gonna work for the Nashville Records Company."

Although you hear a running theme with musical legends from our rock and roll past, I also noted Father John Misty, Arctics, and other modern acts, all wrapped up in a lush Nude Party package. You can almost smell the smokey bbq, hoppy beer, and woody sawdust, feel the fun in the air, and see the swaying festoon lights in the breeze, enabling you to have a hoedown of your own. Never a chore, it was a delight to listen to Midnight Manor granting me a new favourite find in Nude Party, so gracious thanks is duly given to my knowledgeable pal.

Article by Beverley Knight