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

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.

Squawkin’ Good Radio 6/1/16

Last night’s show is now up on Mixcloud! This show featured great new songs from FAWNN, Speedy Ortiz, Operators and a Bob Dylan remix by Animal Collective! If you missed this week’s show, you can listen here:

Click here for this show’s playlist on Radioactivity.

Squawkin’ Good Radio 5/25/16

Squawkin’ Good Radio is now on Mixcloud! Starting now, I will be putting each week’s show on Mixcloud where you can listen whenever you want! Here is last Wednesday’s show, featuring the latest music from Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop, Moderat, Magnet School, Marian Hill and more, plus a few throwbacks.

Click here for this show’s playlist on Radioactivity.

Weekend Mixtape #5: 5/8/16

Time for another set of my favorite recent Soundcloud discoveries! I’ve been busy enjoying the Waking Windows festival in Winooski this weekend, but I’ve found time to bring you this great set of songs including new music from Moonface, Marissa Nadler, Mercury Girls, Wilder Adkins and more! Take a listen below and let me know which songs you liked best!

Weekend Mixtape #4: 5/1/16

Well it’s been a long time since you’ve seen one of these, haven’t you? Here is the first official Weekend Mixtape in over a month. I’ve got two weeks of new musical discoveries to share with you, so we’ve got 20 songs in today’s playlist. There’s quite a variety of music here from several different kinds of rock to more electronic stuff, from a mix of different artists from all over the world. There’s new single from Deerhoof’s forthcoming album The Magic, rockin’ tracks from Palace Winter, The Academic, Mean Jeans and LISBON, chill vibes from Cornelius, Maria Usbeck and Desert Sound Colony, plus the latest singles from Thrice, Why We Run, Aloha and Two Year Vacation.

Take a listen and let me know which songs you like best. You’ll be hearing some of these songs on Squawkin’ Good Radio in the next few weeks.

Squawkin’ Good Spring Mixtape

Apologies for the lack of Weekend Mixtapes the past few weeks. I’ve been really busy and haven’t had time to work on the blog as of late. I have still been discovering lots of great new music over the past few weeks, much of which I haven’t been played on my show yet. So I present the Squawkin’ Good Spring Mixtape featuring my favorite new songs I’ve discovered on Soundcloud plus a few other favorites I’ve been enjoying lately.

Some highlights this time around: my favorite track off of DTCV’s new album Confusion Moderne, you may remember them from the song “Miley Cyrus Wins the Race”, one of my favorite songs of 2016. Also, there’s a fun tune from the Swedish band Two Year Vacation, a perfect song for the warmer weather from The Hazy Seas, a new track from Mt. Wolf who you may remember from “VIII”, another of my favorite songs from 2015, plus great remixes of Saintseneca and Destroyer songs. Take a listen and let me know which songs you like best and I’ll get them on my show in the next few weeks!

Alabama Shakes: Best of Playlist + Covers & Remixes

In honor of Alabama Shakes’ victory in Squawkin’ Good Showdown 2016, I’ve put together a Spotify playlist of their best songs, as well as a few of the best covers and remixes of their songs I found on Soundcloud:

Harold Green feat. Willow Wells – “Gimme All Your Love”

“Gimme All Your Love” seems to be the favorite Alabama Shakes song to cover by various artists on Soundcloud, but this version stands above the rest. It even includes a spoken word verse, giving this song a unique twist. This is from his compilation Flowers For the Living 2016 which also features a bunch of other great covers.

Riders Against the Storm – “RE:AL” (Alabama Shakes Remix)

Hip hop group Riders Against the Storm uses part of the instrumental from “Don’t Wanna Fight” for this great track. Taken from their remix album RE:Mixtape which you can listen to here.

Morgan Bain – “Don’t Wanna Fight” (Live on 92.9 FM Perth)

Finally, here’s Australian soul singer Morgan Bain with a live version of “Don’t Wanna Fight”, the clear favorite song of most people who voted for Alabama Shakes in Squawkin’ Good Showdown this year.

 

Weekend Mixtape #3: 3/20/16

Still finding new tunes you should check out! This week’s set features the return of Australian band The Belligerents with their new single, a track from Smith Westerns frontman Cullen Omori’s debut solo album that came out on Friday, plus some exciting new songs from Mons Vi, Flora Cash, HAWK, Ashley Shadow, Ten Fé, and ISLE. Listen to all songs below, I’ll play some of these on this Wednesday’s edition of Squawkin’ Good Radio.