ALBUM REVIEW: THE NIGHT GAME
STORY // ANGIE PICCIRILLO
PHOTOS // CORNTEY ARMITAGE
Rock music is dead, they say. Turn on your radio and you might hear a couple overproduced pop music tracks with trap beats featuring a hi-hat that’s so loud and fast you think you may have had a stroke. Even the popular anthemic rock of a few years ago, with bands like Imagine Dragons and One Republic are sonically over. Rock lovers are watching the genre cross over into EDM and hip hop. The genre has slowly become a computerized mockery of itself…
Last month, The Night Game released his debut album. A “rock” album.
I say that in quotes because “rock” is almost a dirty word, now. It doesn’t mean the same thing it did when it was classic, and thriving, and had an actual heart beat.
The Night Game is the millennial hipster’s wet dream. He’s accidentally 80’s nostalgic in aesthetic — and every track on his debut album are as if the soundtrack to Friday Night Lights and Bruce Springsteen mated and had multiple magical children right on first base in Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams. While the sun is setting.
Sonically, it’s all the things we missed from “rock” before: real drums, layered guitars, songs with a damn melody. Songs that have a story…
You may recognize Martin Johnson from former emo rock group, Boys Like Girls. But you may not recognize him from his sound — because it’s anything but the same. He, is not the same. After his days as the BLG frontman, he moved primarily into producing and writing for others — check out his Wikipedia and you’ll have several “scrolls” of songs and artists to dig through. But those years did something to him that caused him to take stock of where he was going and even made him question if he loved music anymore. And so rather than continuing to chase the current sound code of trap beats and featured rappers with face tattoos…. Martin went the opposite way.
He turned off the radio and attempted to get back to the things he loved about music. “The point of this record was [to say], ‘can I do something honest? Can I make an honest story? Can I get in front of the computer and get in front of this synthesizer and get in front of the guitar and just tell a story?’ I disconnected from the thing that was making me rot — chasing whatever was on Spotify and whatever was on pop radio. When I was making this music, I didn’t want to chase stuff out of fear,” he says.
We were first given a taste of the classic rock roots on singles like, “The Outfield,” “Kids In Love” and “American Nights,” — in which you can sense hints of Bruce Springsteen, Boy George, Bruce Hornsby, Don Henley and other Legendary names. But to Martin, he claims that his “throwback 80’s vibe” was never done on purpose. His use of analog instruments and attempts to “not snap to the grid;” and the simple ambition to tell real stories with real sounds in a real way were the driving forces behind everything you hear on this debut album. “I went from [a] structured songwriting routine to going back to chain-smoking cigarettes all night, sitting on the patio and just writing lyrics,” he adds.
Even with the stigma that the word “rock” may hold, one thing is true of The Night Game: this debut album brought “rock” back from the dead — in his search for something real, Martin gave it its’ heart beat back.
10/10 Seattle, WA – The Showbox*
10/13 Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades*
10/14 San Francisco, CA – August Hall*
10/17 San Diego, CA The Observatory North Park*
10/19 Los Angeles, CA – The Novo*
10/20 Anaheim, CA – House of Blues*
10/31 Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge
11/2 Chicago, IL – Chop Shop
11/3 Pontiac, MI – Pike Room
11/4 Cleveland, OH – HoB Cambridge Room
11/7 Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw
11/8 Boston, MA – Great Scott
11/9 Washington, DC – Rock n Roll Hotel
11/10 Charlotte, NC – Visulite Theater
11/12 Nashville, TN – Basement East
11/13 Atlanta, GA – The Loft
11/14 New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa
11/15 Houston, TX – The Studio at Warehouse Live
11/16 Dallas, TX – Trees
11/17 Austin, TX – The Parish
11/20 Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar
* Supporting St Lucia
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