No-Shadow Kick: Basement Make-Out Party (1999)

Now available on bandcamp as a free/name-your-own-price download, my old band’s debut CD. We wrote it, we recorded it, we put it out, it got some mixed reviews, and then nothing happened – a victim of fierce under-promotion and a dreaded proclivity towards shooting ourselves in our collective feet commercially. But now, twelve years later, it has risen again to sate your music consumption desires. Here’s my critical assessment and fond recollections of this fantastic landmark Completely Non-Remastered 12th Anniversary Internet Edition:

Written, recorded and mixed by the band, mostly in basements.
Shawn: drums, piano, digital clip remover, background vocal, percussion
Josh: Guitar, vocal, eastern thought
Tom: fretless bass, fretful bass, Big Muff, vocal on In The End and Scarecrow, percussion

All the mastered songs were mastered by Zeke Fiddler, Knob Twiddler.
Cover photo of Mark Reusch by Shawn. Layout by Standard Design.
Originally released by BlueFX Records

1. Daft - One of the more grotesque snare drum sounds you will ever hear. Musically, about as close to Soul Coughing as we managed to get. Strong vocal from Josh. I believe the sample at the end is from a pornographic Flash animation.

2. BMX Song – A great upbeat instrumental. Still kicks ass. Bass line’s busy as hell, but it works for me. Now that it is on the internet with a Creative Commons license, I hope to someday hear it laid over something idiotic on YouTube.

3. Sat. Through Tues. In July – Moody and rifftastic, with little dinkles of piano. I have never cared much for playing chords on bass, but I really like this line. Another strong Josh vocal.

4. Basement Make-Out Party I – Rehearsal outtake. NSK was writing a lot of songs based off of rehearsal jams.

5. Scarecrow Waltz – A slow chunk of bummer I wrote about a girl. As far as the whole abstract imagery lyric approach goes, I still think it’s pretty good. Music holds up nicely, too. Listening to it right now, it seems very Morphine, which I’m not sure I thought at the time we were recording it.

6. Super Press-Down – This is a funky funky funk song. We really like(d) the Meters. I sort of fucking hate the first half. The lyrics are shit (mine), the melody/singing is a bit silly, the recording itself is questionable, and the overall result is a bit embarrassing. The break section is still bearable.

7. OC2 – More harsh snare drum filtering. This is one of the weaker tracks on the album (I wrote most of it), but I think the outro riff is beautifully Police-ish and probably one of the strongest moments on the album (clearly the result of Reynolds and Gilb). Yes, it’s named after the Boss effect pedal.

8. I’ll Love You In The End – This has yet to become the nightclub piano standard that it so richly deserves to be. A lovely piece of music Shawn had written on his own, which I then pooped all over. I find this song to still be immaturely hilarious.

9. The Setup – This is a good, driving song. It’s sort of tense. Intense? Suspenseful? It’s a mood piece for sure. Atmospheric in some way. All build-up, and no real pay-off/release, which I sort of still dig.

10. Basement Make-Out Party II – I think this was recorded in downtown Northampton when we were renting rehearsal space under Michelson Galleries.

11. Von Chow Soul Suck – A funky instrumental. That envelope filter on the bass makes me want to chop my own head off. Especially since underneath it, it’s some of my better playing in that style. Anyway, another song I don’t really like anymore, until the totally fun-to-record outro percussion breakdown. Also features an amazing honest-to-god real answering machine message.

12. Three In The Afternoon – I think this song’s pretty fucking hard. Big Muffed!

13. Integrity - A slightly flawed first take/demo of a song that we decided to put on the CD because there was no one around to tell us that we should try to have standards and strive to put out a quality product. Ho-ho-ho. It’s actually quite a beautiful little song, I think. From the original liner notes: “This song is going to get me so laid” – Josh. I think he eventually did!

14. The Saviour Made Me Do It – The potential hit single of the album! If only it wasn’t too long and didn’t meander so much and didn’t have an uncleared sample on it! And more weird snare sounds. And another fantastic answering machine message (Don’t try to call that guy. He probably died a long time ago). No, I don’t know why I insisted “Saviour” be spelled in that manner. Recorded in a bedroom in January, 1997.

15. Secret Unlisted Bonus Track – You see kids (read that in your best “How I Met Your Mother” voice), back in the days of “compacted discs,” bands liked to occasionally put a big long fucking annoying empty gap after the last track and then stick on an extra unlisted song. So we did that. Except we listed it. This meandering instrumental was recorded in a hot attic on Elizabeth Street in Northampton, MA, direct to cassette. For this special Completely Non-Remastered 12th Anniversary Internet Edition we have omitted the artistically crucial intervening ten minutes of silence.

My final thoughts on this little self-reflective listening party: I have knee-jerk negative feelings about this album until I listen to it. Then I think it’s pretty fucking all right. Despite it’s many (many) flaws, I feel like the strong moments of Basement Make-Out Party still stand up. I think it’s cool that it doesn’t sound too dated/tied to any particular genre (to my ears anyway). It was, is, and forever will be a commercially nonviable venture. Please download it, delete the songs you think are shitty, and let the others creep into your playlists and random shuffles and mixes.

Reviews of BMOP
A nice interview/review in The Valley Advocate from 2000
BMOP on bandcamp
Official band site

About Tom Pappalardo

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