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Nakatomi Plaza
Unsettled
Red Leader Records
www.nakatomiplaza.com


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.

-Susan Frances

Track Listing:
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
9. Undefined
10. Don't Close Your Eyes
11. Bang Bang Sing Sing


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