Come Naked is the first full-length release from European rock band, Black Market Aftermath. The two-man group does a great job of writing tunes reminiscent of the genre’s golden years, mixing elements of 70s rock and 90s grunge, all while adding their own experimental flavour.
What fascinates me the most about this album is its backstory. Although this record does a good job of recreating the iconic 90s alt rock sound, Come Naked is an album that couldn’t possibly be made in the nineties. Francesco D’Andrea and Walter Marini, the two minds behind this project, worked on the album primarily from separate locations that were brought together by the internet. The instrumentals were written and recorded by D’Andrea in a home studio, and Marini’s vocals were later added. I love to see these kinds of collaborations work out as well as they do on Come Naked. This approach shows in the music a little bit, too. The raw sound is refreshing, although some of these songs are bordering on demo quality, especially when you factor in Marini’s inconsistent vocal performances. His pipes are far less captivating on some songs than others, and his thick accent makes certain lyrics hard to understand, but he does have a good voice that is very reminiscent of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder in some instances.
The album is solid, but damn is it ever lengthy. Clocking in at almost 80 minutes, and spanning 19 tracks, it is way longer than any rock album should be, especially for a smaller band. With nineteen songs, it is safe to assume they do not all stand out, but along with generic titles like “Miss You,” “Again,” “Tonight,” “Consequences,” and so on, it is even more difficult to remember these songs and their hooks based on their one-word titles.
Come Naked’s non-filler tracks are surprisingly memorable, and a lot of that comes with how much they sound like they’ve been pulled right out of other artists’ catalogues. “Cities Under Guns” sounds like a Gaslight Anthem tune, “Howling” is very reminiscent of something Soundgarden would release, “Tonight” gives off some strong Big Wreck vibes, “Stone” has Pearl Jam written all over it, and “Pretty Rad” boasts a southern, Lynyrd Skynyrd riff. Those are only a few examples, but it is cool to see Black Market Aftermath tackle all these different sounds within one album, whether the connections to the previously mentioned artists are intentional or not. If anything, a lot of the entertainment value of listening to these nineteen songs come with trying to associate each one with the artist that influenced it the most.
As much as I like Come Naked, it does overstay its welcome. 80 minutes is understandable if you’ve released a prog metal concept album, and nineteen tracks are tolerable if you’re a punk rock band churning out two minute bangers, but for an alt rock album, it gets tiring listening to Come Naked in one sitting. I would have preferred to see this album edited down into ten or twelve of its best tracks. That said if you’re a fan of any of the previously mentioned artists, or just like some good old-fashioned rock and roll, you will like this album. Plus, the whole thing is free for download on their Bandcamp page, but hey, toss them a few bucks while you’re at it. They deserve it.
Written by Mathieu Perrier
*edited by Danielle Kenedy