Personnel: Chuck Betz (vocals, guitar, piano, organ); Ryan Naideau (vocals, drums, percussion).
Recording information: The Hit Factory, Brooklyn, NY (2011).
From the trippy neo-garage of Ty Segall to the urgent buzz of the Men and the anarchic punk of Iceage, the late aughts and early 2010s re-energized rock in many flavors, and with the addition of Nude Beach, the genre gets an expertly executed and irrepressibly fun infusion of feel-good, timeless American guitar pop. The Brooklyn-based trio debuted in 2010 but reached a bigger stage in 2012 with the Other Music Recording Company re-release of sophomore album II -- and given its infectious blend of classic rock scruff, power pop bounce, and punk pace it's no surprise the record quickly exhausted its original limited run on the Mandible label. This isn't a new approach, to be sure; the Hold Steady and the Gaslight Anthem served Springsteen-styled Rust Belt rock for a new generation in the mid-aughts, but where they sometimes fell more on the dad-ready side of the equation, Nude Beach takes a cue from like-minded predecessors the Exploding Hearts and the Reigning Sound, consistently capturing a youthful exuberance that transcends the generation gap. Opener "Radio" makes the band's intentions crystal clear, a jangling, guitar riff-led reflection of returning to one's roots that evokes the simultaneous comfort of the familiar and the yearning for the new, begging to be played at a sticky-floored bar or on a long drive through the Midwest. And sure enough, II has the makings of a great rock & roll jukebox, the kind that folks used to thoughtfully fill by hand but which has since been phased out in most places by a digital version that favors more options over a personal touch. There's melodic, rough 'n' tumble rock ("Walkin' Down My Street"), carefree Tom Petty-style swagger ("Love Can't Wait"), and soulful, Strange Boys-esque blue-eyed R&B revival ("Loser in the Game"), balanced with the crooning "Don't Have to Try," pairing stirring organ undertones and sunrise-conjuring reverb in a slow dance. No, Nude Beach aren't starting a revolution with II, but its well-crafted songs and raw-edged execution are just too damn joy-inspiring to deny. ~ Chrysta Cherrie