I remember listening to Nakatomi Plaza’s demos for this album years ago when I was working for a record label. I was impressed by the Brooklyn, NY band’s diverse take on indie/punk rock. I recall a lot of these songs even without listening to those demos since then. I would say that is fairly impressive for those songs to stay with me that long. Apparently, Unsettled was self-released in small numbers in 2005. However, it has finally gotten an official release earlier this year on CD (Red Leader) and LP (Brightskull). It is a shame that these songs have stayed hidden for so long though. When listening to the album it is hard to believe the record had a hard time catching the ears of a label.
Nakatomi Plaza have a very unique style. The band combines indie rock, post-hardcore and punk rock into an often exhilirating sound. On numerous occasions when listening to Unsettled I am reminded of At The Drive-In. It is not necessarily in sound, but in the demeanor of the two bands where similarities can be found. Two traits of Nakatomi Plaza really stand out when listening to Unsettled. While certainly not original, the two-vocalists approach the band takes adds a whole lot to these songs. As different as the two vocalists are, they still compliment each other remarkably well. The band even employs some jagged screaming into their songs. As awkward as it may sound at first, it eventually begins to feel natural with more listens. It is the same way a band like Cross My Heart subtlely added screams to their brand of smooth indie/emo rock. Second, is the imaginitive guitar work the band shows off so liberally on Unsettled. There is an almost post-punk influence in the obtuse guitar lines the band employs. It is reminiscent of bands like Pretty Girls Make Graves and Minus The Bear. It is a trait that really allows the band to expand their song structures. Lastly, the recording by J. Robbins really accentuates the band’s many positive characteristics here.
As exciting and unique as Nakatomi Plaza’s sound is, there is still room for growth here. Not all of Unsettled hits the mark. Still, the album is impressive and one must remember that these songs are over two years old now. It will be exciting to hear what direction the band has gone in since. Unsettled has proven one thing rather clearly though. The potential for greatness may just be around the corner for Nakatomi Plaza.
RIYL: At The Drive-In, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Planes Mistaken For Stars