Tuesday, June 9, 2015

RECORD REVIEW: Nelson "Peace Out"

Peace Out
(Frontiers Music)

Hooky melodies,
skintight vocals and
blazing guitars
the size of Buicks.
What's not to love?

When Nelson's chart-busting debut record, After the Rain, arrived in stores during the summer of 1990, it was a deliciously glorious last gasp of greatness for the soon-to-be exterminated arena rock era — a fabulous final exclamation mark. And within a year, once proven platinum-selling, good-time rock and roll poster boys all would be replaced by a procession of shabby-looking and (likely) foul-smelling urchins  capable only of producing painfully mind-numbing drivel, void of hooks, melody, charm and charisma. It was a musical and cultural nightmare that lasted for more than a decade.

Nelson's 1990 debut record remains
one of my all-time personal favorites.
When I finally got the opportunity to see Nelson perform live, it was on a steamy weekday afternoon during the summer of 1995. Gone were the days of their sold-out enorm-o-dome concerts with contractual clauses regarding M&Ms backstage — times had changed. Touring in support of their too-long-delayed sophomore record, Because They Can, the once formidable five-piece Nelson configuration had been paired down to namesakes, Matthew and Gunnar performing as an acoustic duo. The venue  a Melbourne, Florida record store parking lot. The stage — a rented flatbed. The admission — free. The attendance  fewer than 100 — a heartbreaking fall from grace, to be sure. Sadly, the only crimes of which Nelson was ever guilty, were merely creating catchy, high-energy rock songs that made people happy — and possessing incredible coifs. Fortunately, 20 years and a slew of records later, Nelson has returned to the scene of their "crimes" with a new "smoking gun," Peace Out. Get ready kids — it looks like we're gonna party like it's 1990, all over again!

“We wanted to write and
record the most exciting,
authentic, uplifting and
rockin' Nelson record ever!
The mission: make a classic."
- Gunnar Nelson

Peace Out - The latest from Nelson
(Available NOW in stores and online)
Picking up where their multi-platinum debut left off, Peace Out supplies Nelson's customer demand in grand fashion. And it boasts highlights galore.

Cut from the same stylistic stonewashed fabric as their Top 10 hit single, "After the Rain," "Invincible" is a hooky little earworm that makes me truly regret having ever parted with my beloved vintage Levi's. Equally infectious, "Let it Ride," "I Wanna Stay Home" and "On the Bright Side" also snap nicely and felt as if I was reconnecting with old friends. And seemingly still in pursuit of that ever-elusive Hooters hottie, those "love-hungry" Nelson boys pan-out a guitar-driven nugget with, "Autograph."

But despite my personal penchant for their Aqua Net-fueled anthems, I can't deny that Nelson is most effective when they crank it "to 11" and simply burn. And in that regard, "What's Not to Love" and "You and Me" both stand tall as two of Nelson's all-time most blistering tracks.

In sum, is Peace Out an innovative modern rock epic filled with edgy computerized tracks that will soon have the industry buzzing? Uh, don't be ridiculous. This is a Nelson record — thank goodness.

-Christopher Long
(June 2015)

The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

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  1. Looking forward to listening to this. I an honestly say I am in the mood for some Nelson...also one of my favorite guilty pleasure albums of the early 90s. I bought After the Rain the same day I bought the Sleeze Beez debut. Still remember it like it was yesterday. Still wish it was yesterday.