Sometimes you want to hear something genre-bustingly new. But sometimes the sound of the ’60s and ’70s glory days of rock is just as refreshing, a welcomed Q-tip to the ear, relieving that build-up of mainstream crap-pop. Over the past decade, we’ve seen the likes of the Hold Steady, the Gaslight Anthem and the Constantines accomplish this, drawing immediate comparisons to their legendary idols Bruce Springsteen, the Ramones, the Clash, Tom Petty, the Replacements and so on. These modern populist rock proteges produce the same recipe of anthemic, working-class, windows-down-and-radio-full-blast rockers that their forefathers did decades before them. And that’s where Nude Beach fits in. This is a trio of Brooklynites by way of Long Island that makes no-frills rock ‘n’ roll that resembles the churning rhythm and melodies of “Glory Days” and “American Girl” more than the grimy angst and simplicity of “London Calling” and “I Wanna Be Sedated.” And on its latest release, II, Nude Beach’s 4/4, ’60s-influenced blend of power-pop tunes further cements it in that limited class of classic rock revivalists.
Clocking in at a no-BS 30 minutes, this album will definitely catch your attention, but it’s not going to blow you away. If anything, it will probably make you want to listen to your favorite Heartbreakers songs afterward. Vocalist Chuck Betz hits the nail on the head with his Petty-like vocals. If you Shazam-ed the hook of “Walkin’ Down My Street,” the app might mistake it for an up-tempo, swinging version of Petty’s “The Waiting.” The same can be said about “Love Can’t Wait”—are we sure Betz isn’t somehow related to Petty? And the driving, melodic guitar riffs of songs like “Some Kinda Love” sound like they could have come from the very hands of the Boss.
It’s safe to say Nude Beach is comfortable resting on the laurels of rock legends of the past. There is nothing on II that you haven’t heard before or that you won’t hear again. Most of it is just a rehash of anthemic, heartland rock melodies—pick just about any song on the album, and it shouldn’t take long to target exact early-rock influences, sometimes to the very riff. But don’t let that discredit the quality and allure of the music. What the album seems to lack in originality, it makes up for in classic rock ‘n’ roll sensibility. Nude Beach is not around to fit in with the trendy clothing and haircuts of its Brooklyn scene. This band is here to play nostalgic and lovable classic rock and have a good time doing it. And on II, Nude Beach does just that, transporting the listener back in time to that idyllic scene of the American Dream: blasting down the open highway in a muscle car with endless opportunity ahead and all worries left behind.