Nakatomi Plaza's third full-length studio album Unsettled
shows that they are a young band feeling their way around transitions
and dynamics but capable of handling very ambitious chord maneuvers
and intense complexes. Produced by J. Robbins (Jawbreaker,
Against Me, Murder By Death, Hey Mercedes),
Nakatomi Plaza's hardcore factions have the height of Taking
Back Sunday and Senses Fail, and their power punk flurries
have the raging velocity of Consumed and The Sainte
Catherines. They create very stimulating and imaginative chord
riffs and tunage which range from the melodic atmospheres of
Mohair to the savage shredding of Eddie Van Halen.
The songs skim the surface of many styles from screamo, hardcore
and modern metal to power pop and softcore punk, but the transitions
lose concentration and direction in the splay of dynamics. The
final track "Bang Bang Sing Sing" has the makings of
an epic piece but is distracting by placing dynamics which move
the listener away from the story being told. Nakatomi Plaza put
everything they had into this album, which makes for some fantastic
riffage, but it is coordinating their movements that sometimes
distracts the listener from the focus of the song.
The trio from New York City offer two lead singers as guitarist
Oscar Rodriguez and bassist Al Fair take turns up
front which really enhances the songs, and NP's drummer Lou
Maiolica holds the frenzied coils together with a solid rhythmic
pull. Nakatomi Plaza has two lyricists who write with a socio-political
slant often showing the crippling effects that broken promises
have on society, causing damaging ripples which prevent people
from making the right choices due to political decisions. Their
potential epic "Bang Bang Sing Sing" touts, "They'll
drown in this river, a Hell of broken promise/ You'll be better
or deader/ With no intentions, just an intent to invent labor/
So if you're not quite worth the effort, the tide will sweep you
into Never/ Bang Bang Sing Sing/ Rehab or lab rat/ A Wasted life/
Blindfolds and bondage/ The tools that keep you down and out/
The world is railing against you/ Lost not found/I'll take the
wheel this last time/ We're caught in the system, a grid that
we can't solve."
The opening track "A Manifest Destiny Grows In Brooklyn'
has transitional phrases which attach shoegazey chord series with
tightly spooled twists. The screamo/hardcore pellets on "Get
Me My Meds" are dizzily looped while the guitar effects on
"Not Hopeless" swelter and recede in intervals. "Calling
All Cars" has a power punk persuasion chinked with challenging
guitar licks. "The Strikes" and "Where Good Intentions
Go To Die" have accelerating movements and guitar vibrations
similar to Strung Out and Smoke Or Fire. The vocals
of Rodriguez and Fair add to the tracks' texture and depth and
work great when they sing rather than scream; like on "Red
Room" which has striking punk metal phrasing and fat drum
beats. The pace is slowed down on the soft rock number "Undefined"
which gives the album a pure melodic rock melody, and though Nakatomi
Plaza like playing with intense punk registers, this one fits
them nicely, too. The final track "Bang Bang Sing Sing"
concludes the album with a bang, engulfing everything from screamo/punk
metal twirls reaching amazing heights to receding soft rock calms.
Nakatomi Plaza have some rough edges to polish but their third
effort Unsettled has some fascinating guitar riffs and
tightly wrung rhythm sections. The band has greatly progressed
from their debut album By Chester Copperpot and their sophomore
release Private Property to what they have accomplished
now with Unsettled. Their style of punk rock shares factions
with others but they have great potential to do even more than
what they offer with Unsettled.
1. A Manifest Destiny Grows In Brooklyn
2. Get Me My Meds
3. Not Hopeless
4. Calling All Cars
5. The Strikes
6. Where Go Intentions Go To Die
7. Red Room
8. Combustible Jettison
10. Don't Close Your Eyes
11. Bang Bang Sing Sing
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