REVIEWS: No-Shadow Kick – Basement Make-Out Party

AMG EXPERT REVIEW: No-Shadow Kick’s Basement Make-Out Party does a good job of showcasing the band’s chops, sense of humor, and musical influences, but none of these elements really jell into a cohesive album. Their stripped-down sound and the album’s slightly rough-around-the-edges production values are appealing, however, on tracks as varied as the quasi-emo of “Daft”; the jazzy, math rock-influenced “Sat Through Tues. in July”; and the pretty Beck- and Pavement-inflected “Scarecrow Waltz.” Quirky songs like the lounge singer parody “I’ll Love You in the End” add even more eclecticism to Basement Make-Out Party, but what the band really needs is more focus and consistency in their sound, not less. Still, No-Shadow Kick displays enough ideas and ability on this album to make their future efforts worth anticipating.

- Heather Phares, All-Music Guide

With a skewed version of blues and Funk, No-Shadow Kick reside somewhere between the realm of die-hard Classic Rock enthusiasts and tongue-deep-in-cheek Indie nutcases. Either way, their mixture of heavy guitar riffs, funky basslines, weird keyboard sounds and vocal wailing should keep many a music fan happy.


This is somewhat of a mixed bag, kind of like Haribo Star Mix; they are all good, just in different ways.

It’s difficult to review an album that is so seemingly random, but soon it becomes evident that the order of the day is predominantly funk. Although the feel of the songs changes they are all held together by a great rhythm section, throwing about influences ranging from Captain Beefheart to what is apparently the soundtrack to a low grade erotic movie (‘Three in the Afternoon’ being a prime example of this).

The range of sounds throughout the album is pretty varied but if you have a love of 70s funk, psych and low-fi indie, this may well be the band for you, I suppose I can hear echoes of Eels or Beck…..but that isn’t really any sort of guide as to what No-Shadow Kick sound like.

Overall it stands as a very confusing, yet enthralling listening experience, quite odd.

- Drew Millward, TASTY FANZINE

Northampton-based No-Shadow Kick has enticed me into their dirty cellar of a CD with Basement Make-Out Party. There are fourteen cuts (plus the now inevitable secret bonus track) here and most were recorded in various Valley basements (with three exceptions recorded in Valley bedrooms). Everything was then mastered at the Monkeyhouse by none other than local fave Zeke Fiddler. The resulting effect is a great raw and primitive sound quality that the listener can actually hear and distinguish.
The band consists of Shawn on drums, piano, digital clip remover (whatever that is), and percussion; Josh on guitar and vocals; and Tom on bass, vocals, and percussion. Why they list no last names is probably their own business and I will choose to leave their personal lives the mystery they want, because this disc stands on its own in every sense of the phrase. No-Shadow Kick blend a bunch of styles including ’60s Detroit blues, ’70s funk, a certain late ’80s indie spirit and throw out hellos to various performers including Sly Stone and a really funny (and perfectly done) nod to Tom Waits. The style is mellow, but even so gave me a bit of a Mission Of Burma feel now and then. The bass anchors the band here and Tom goes from intricate funk to simple punk with no trouble and regardless of what he’s playing is solid, forceful, and a powerhouse. The drums and guitar are minimalist, but still come in with great effect. The sparseness of the guitar defines the sound here in many ways. Vocals? Seedy is an apt description. Very low-key and fits well with the music. The groove seems all important with these guys and Basement Make-Out Party has more than enough groove to spare. I liked everything on the disc except the secret bonus track. Very annoying; long, and needless. Luckily it starts so long after the last track that it will be easily avoidable for anyone getting the disc.

- Duke Aaron, Il Duce, VMAG, FEB 2000

Dear VMAG,

While normally I find your magazine to be an excellent source of information with regards to local culture and political issues, I find myself compelled to object in most strenuous terms to an item I read in your February issue. Specifically, I am referring to Duke “Il Duce” Aaron’s ill-conceived review of Basement Makeout Party, the debut album by local band (and alleged animal-abusers) No-Shadow Kick: I have never been witness to a more vicious affront to reason.

What exactly is Mr. Aaron trying to say when he writes that “this disc stands on its own in every sense of the phrase” or when he describes the CD as having “a great raw and primitive sound quality that the listener can actually hear and distinguish”? What kind of rubes does he take us for? Does he think that we don’t have ears? And does “Il Duce” honestly expect us to believe that “Basement Make-Out Party has more than enough groove to spare”? Is this some jejune attempt at neo-fascist doublespeak? How DARE he try to tell his readers how much groove is “more than enough”!

Perhaps Mr. Aaron’s most egregious offense is when he refers to bassist Tom as “solid, forceful, and a powerhouse”. Assuming for a moment that he actually believes the excrement that he so effortlessly belches forth, I think it’s safe to say that Duke Aaron lacks a sense of social responsibility commensurate with any notion of “journalistic integrity”. Perhaps he does not care that as a result of his statement, said bass-player has been accosting strangers in downtown Northampton with shouts of “Who’s the powerhouse? Yeah, that’s right: I’M the powerhouse!”–but I, for one, would hold Mr. Aaron responsible for the consequences of his actions.

However, there IS one kernel of truth in Mr. Aaron’s review; it is when he describes the vocals as “seedy”. In fact, if there exists a more shifty-eyed and unscrupulous assortment of uncouth misanthropes than the members of this band, I have yet to meet them. I have seen the future of music in the valley, and brother, let me tell you: it is NOT the No-Shadow Kick. My only consolation is that they will be revealed for the sham that they are when they play the Hadley Pub on March 11th.

Shawn Reynolds
Drummer, No-Shadow Kick

Basement Make-out Party has an experimental feel about it. The impression is that No Shadow Kick is a young band exploring sounds, moods, styling and recording techniques (“recorded mostly in basements”). Throughout the CD it seems the bassist carries the songs with a perpetual groove while the drums, percussion, piano and guitar often create the eclectic, oddity of Haverhill MA’s No Shadow Kick. Not without humor, I’ll Love You in the End, is a great send up of the lounge piano singer. The potential is there. Unfortunately, the recording is weak and suffers from poor production.

- Nick Casino, Musician’s Trade Journal
issue #3, March 2000

This is the kind of record that you would assume was made after smoking about a trash bag full of dope. That may be why I couldn’t grab all the subtle nuances here, and probably why the purpose of this album was lost on me. The band brings new meaning to the word sparse, with loose musical arrangements comprising most of the album, and trippy vocals interjected from time to time. There are moments of clarity, and some nice bass work strewn throughout, but often little to tie it together.

At the beginning, we get “Daft”, which has what sounds like a sick snare drum being repetitively hit, drowning out almost everything until the vocals start – which isn’t until about a minute into the track. A lot of the vocals on this album are odd, too. They were definitely trying for a different sound – which is either hit or miss. “Sat. Through Tues. In July” is a miss. Its plodding, bluesy vocals never seem to quite catch, leaving you waiting for a hook that never arrives. But, the album does have it’s moments. One example would be “Scarecrow Waltz”, which shows how loose arrangements can be a good thing. It has the feeling of one of the slower, pshychedelic Pink Floyd tunes from the Roger Waters era, with the filtered vocal sound used throughout most of the album. “Super Press-Down” also has potential, with a 70’s funk sound.

But then, the return of the sick snare in “OC2″. Please, kill the snare. It’s done enough for one lifetime. And, the lounge hit “I’ll Love You in the End” has that dripping, Wayne Newton overtone to it, with none of the production value. I think it’s supposed to be up close and personal time with the band, simulating the live experience (complete with chinking glasses, background voices, etc), but it’s an odd way of going about it. “Von Chow Soul Suck”, aside from having the coolest name on the disc, also starts out with the most potential. The bass is great, a good groove with a flanger making it sound even cooler. But then it just drags on – with little else going on at all. The only vocals are some “ooh-ohh”‘s and an “oh, yeah” here and there. It just made me want to skip on to the next track. By the final official song on the album (yes, there’s a bonus track, too), “The Savior Made Me Do It”, there’s actually a full song worth of material. There’s some great jamming, with powerful vocals that aren’t understated like the rest of the disc. Basement Make-Out Party has moments. Unfortunately these moments were spent getting to the meat of some of the tunes. The carnivorous general public just doesn’t have the attention span to wait 1 to 2 minutes for vocals to kick in. They’re more likely to just stop listening.

- John MacLeod, Music Revue Magazine, May 2000, (the “Mariah Carey” issue)

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