PETER NITE & THE ALL-STAR BAND
CEREBRAL THOUGHTS ...
Used to be, you either rocked or you didn't. If your songs got the work boots tapping at the bar, it was going to be a good night. Now that everything's niche marketed, auto-tuned and micro-edited, it's hard to find some good old authentic rock n' roll. Apparently the best approach is to start local. Peter Nite & the All Star Band is a fine example. Initiated three years ago, the project took shape as Nite's original batch of songs was scrapped in favor of new ideas. According to the liner notes, the singer/guitarist's goal was to record the album as a keepsake for his sons.
What becomes obvious from the outset is that Nite isn't afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve, but he and his cohorts make sure not to let emotional honesty turn into po-faced seriousness. "Introduction/I Only" opens with a faux arena full of cheers and a true classic rock-style ... um ... introduction (unrelated but highly similar to an opening salvo from a then-unknown Guided By Voices on their indie label debut, Propeller). The song breaks into a rip-roaring, galloping beat, primordial rock n' roll with, believe it or not, an immediacy and delivery that sounds like nothing if not vintage Ramones.
The vibe continues on other prime cuts, such as the relentless and crunchy "Killer on the Loose." Classic rock comes to the forefront on the Steve Miller-tinged "Diva in My Life," which also serves as a sweet valentine to his wife. I know that doesn't sound very "rock n' roll," but think about it: in this day and age, unfettered sentiment might just be the most punk rock thing you can do. The record moves through Ô80s-style uptempo rock ("Walked Away"), piano-based power ballads ("Leaving You"), and even a little lascivious lounge-y blues-rock ("I'm Just a Man"). "Freedom Song" is a bit of a misnomer, title-wise; in a charged political climate where soundbites signify heavy thinking, this song is actually a fist-pumping party salvo, something of a Midwestern riff-rocking version of "Fight for Your Right to Party." No politics here, just a good time. Recorded at New Haven's Monastic Chambers under the capable guidance of Jon Gillespie, the disc is well mixed, with plenty of tasty guitar tones to go around.
The record ends with a thoughtful lament about the loss of friends and musical heroes alike, from Buddy Holly to Kurt Cobain. On "There comes a time in everyone's life," Nite somberly sings, "Just remember you've had your fun." Peter Nite and the All Star Band remind us to enjoy the ride as best we can throughout this album. (DM Jones)
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