Thursday Throwback: Nakatomi Plaza

Thursday Throwback is a new feature on Squawkin’ Good Tunes where we dig up a forgotten gem from at least 10 years ago, play it on that week’s edition of Squawkin’ Good Radio, and review the album on squawkingood.com.

This week’s Thursday Throwback is one from my college years. Nakatomi Plaza were a band from Brooklyn who played a style of post-hardcore descended from the likes of At the Drive-In, with a sound that skews decidedly towards the punk energy of Sparta rather than the experimental leanings of The Mars Volta. Their album Unsettled was released in 2007 during my sophomore year of college, and several songs from it would be played on my radio show.

Opening track “A Manifest Destiny Grows in Brooklyn” gives you a good taste of what to expect from this album. From there it goes into quite the variety – from the heavier screaming tracks “Get Me My Meds” and “Bang Bang Sing Sing”, to the well-crafted pop-punk sensibilities of “Undefined”.

The album’s standout track is “Not Hopeless”, which also appeared on their Frog Octopus Wolf EP. Propelled by an energetic synth keyboard riff, this song delivers socially conscious lyrics backed up by a powerful, catchy melody.

If you like what you hear, listen to the full album below on Spotify.

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Thursday Throwback: A vs. Monkey Kong

Thursday Throwback is a new feature on Squawkin’ Good Tunes where we dig up a forgotten gem from at least 10 years ago, play it on that week’s edition of Squawkin’ Good Radio, and review the album on squawkingood.com.

This week we go back and revisit one of my favorite bands from high school, A. Yes, their name is just the letter A, making them one of the most impossible bands to google. They were a band from England who were pretty popular in their home country in the early 00’s, and were popular in a few other countries like Germany and Japan. Their sophomore album, A vs. Monkey Kong (also just known as Monkey Kong in the states) was my introduction to the band.

A were another band I discovered on my local alt-rock station WEQX’s new music show Download, and they were a favorite of Download host Alex Taylor’s as well. 5 different songs from this album would receive airplay on Download, the first of which “Old Folks” would also go on to be in rotation in EQX’s regular playlist.

 

 

A’s music is best described as pop-punk but they mixed a lot of genres together including punk, metal, Britpop, 60’s pop and whatever else they felt like. Monkey Kong showed just how diverse their songs could be. In addition to their energetic, melodic rockers like “Old Folks”, “Down On the Floor” and “Miles Away”, there are a couple short hardcore punk tracks “Warning” and “Don’t Be Punks”, as well as some weird slower songs like “Hopper Jonnus Fang” and “Jason’s Addiction”.

These days, my personal favorite track off the album is “Here We Go Again (I Love Lake Tahoe)” a song that couldn’t have been written by anyone else and perfectly shows off their sense of humor with lyrics like “Yeah the trees are pretty wide/That’s where Sonny Bono died.”

 

 

While I wouldn’t consider this album a classic, it’s still worth revisiting every few years along with their other three albums: Their more commercially successful followup Hi-Fi Serious, their hard to find debut How Ace Are Buildings, and their final heavier, darker album Teen Dance Ordinance.

Check out their official site for more info on A (it saves you from googling them!) , and listen to Monkey Kong on Spotify below:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/2uAtpKzdyY2F0pVEqYp716

Squawkin’ Good Radio returns!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this blog. Things have been really busy. After not being sure where I was going to end up and whether I would continue with the show, I ended up moving to St. Albans and will continue doing Squawkin’ Good Radio at a new time slot!

Squawkin’ Good Radio returns to WRUV at a new time, with some new changes! Tune in on Thursdays from 6-8 pm. In addition to new music, the first hour will also feature tracks from featured artists, including a Thursday Throwback where I’ll play a forgotten gem from at least 10 years ago, and you can check this blog to learn more about the artist you heard.

There will be more special features coming your way this fall. Hoping to make the new show and blog an interactive experience.

The new and improved Squawkin’ Good Radio returns this Thursday, October 5th at 6 pm.

Thursday Throwback: Cupcakes

Thursday Throwback is a new feature on Squawkin’ Good Tunes where we dig up a forgotten gem from at least 10 years ago, play it on that week’s edition of Squawkin’ Good Radio, and review the album on squawkingood.com.

Here’s a band I completely forgot even existed until a few weeks ago, after a few listens to current B-52s guitarist Greg Suran’s great instrumental rock album Augmentation. I learned in his bio that he was in a band from Chicago called Cupcakes who released an album on Dreamworks Records in 2000. This sounded like the kind of artist that had to have been played on Download, a Sunday night new music show on my local alt-rock station WEQX that I listened to every week. And sure enough it was, in the form of the album’s second track “Vidiots”. With swirling keyboards, a propulsive beat, and lyrics about the fear of technological advancement, this catchy song is a good example of the music that was bubbling just under the mainstream at the turn of the millennium.

But how is the rest of the album? It’s solid, if a little long. Doesn’t stray far from the themes presented in “Vidiots”, even if none of the other songs are quite as catchy. Cupcakes’ music sounds like an updated version of the theatrical glam-rock of Queen or David Bowie, with a bit of Weezer’s playful power-pop mixed in. One album highlight is “High Speed Cakes in the Hole”, which is a welcome change from the first four songs, bringing in some spacey electronic elements with a sense of dread. Then there’s “Blood Thirsty” which kicks off the second half of the album and is more angry and personal than the other songs. The album loses momentum towards the end, but closes strong with “Intentionally Vague” which showcases Greg Suran’s guitar work and is the closest link between Cupcakes and his new album Augmentations. This song sounds quite a bit like Muse, who had released a couple albums at this point but were nowhere near the popularity they would achieve in the mid-00’s. And who knows? If Cupcakes had stayed together and put out more albums they might have had a similar career arc.

Check out their single, “Vidiots”, above and if you like it, take a listen to the full album below on Spotify.