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The Student News Site of Oregon State University



Ultra Q’s Empty Eddy, definitive sophomore LP of the year

Ultra Q’s Empty Eddy, definitive sophomore LP of the year

No sophomore album slump here in 2024 for Ultra Q as the Oakland based post-punk band has another breakout album building off the sound and success of their debut album.

Sophomore albums are an opportunity for artists to craft and redefine their sound for listeners, which is exactly what Ultra Q has done after releasing their debut album My Guardian Angel back in summer 2023. Within less than a year, the band followed that release up with their sophomore album Empty Eddy on March 13, 2024.

The style of their two albums are vastly different from each other as their debut album had more elements of synths and dream pop while Empty Eddy is more of a straight punk rock record. I always like it when bands explore sounds and aren’t confined to just one style of music. It shows not only growth from the band but expansion into new sounds, which is important for any artist to try new things.

For those that are unfamiliar with the band Ultra Q or the lore of the band, they are a post punk band comprised of Jakob Armstrong, Kevin Judd, Enzo Malaspina, and Chris Malaspina hailing from Oakland, California. They previously were known as Mt. Eddy and had released an album titled Chroma along with a couple of EPs before changing their name to Ultra Q, which comes from a Japanese T.V. show called Ultraman.

The name Empty Eddy is a nod to the band’s previous name of Mt. Eddy and the album Chroma. There are a lot of parallels between these two albums as the title of their most recent album.

I’d argue that Empty Eddy is a more a grown-up version of Chroma rather than a second part to it as the group returns to a familiar sound mixed with the sound that they developed together as Ultra Q. The recording of the album is all done live except for the vocals and a few guitar parts, which provides the album with a richer sound than traditionally recorded songs, giving each track a live feel like you would be listening to at a show.

The bleed of the instruments in the songs is something that I enjoy as a listener because it gives the song a lot more emotion and rawness as well as lively feel because you’re experiencing the energy of the band with each listen. I’ve had this album on repeat since the release in March and I still get the same response every time that I listen to each of the tracks.

When I saw that the band was working on a new album, I was immediately excited for the prospect of new music from one of my favorite bands. I got to sit down and interview them in December before the official release of Empty Eddy where they had told me that the recording process was quite different than what they had done as Ultra Q.

Their latest album is getting back to a sound that they enjoy with a rock-style sound combined with the experience of albums and EPs that they have recorded in their years together. The band had talked about recording an album like Chroma and throughout the recording of the album adopted the ethos of wanting to do things their own way for this record and it shows throughout each track on the record.

There are plenty of tracks on this record that have that classic punk rock sound like “Waiting,” “Cold,” “Some Dice,” “Beep Boop,” and “Meet in the Middle.” The album is also contrasted with more mellow tracks that have familiar Ultra Q elements like “You and Me in Dreams,” “Gror,” and “Mobile Suit” that give this album variety with a diverse sonic range of sounds.

The tracks “Some Dice” and “Gror” should be familiar to Ultra Q fans as “Some Dice” was previously released on the EP In a Cave in a Video Game while “Gror” was a demo that the band had worked on. Armstrong mentioned to me back in December that sometimes the band will revisit songs that they’ve either recorded before or previously released and revisit them later. An example of this was the song “Teether,” which was shown on In a Cave in a Video Game but revisited on My Guardian Angel.

The group will take the previously recorded song and add new flair or ideas to it that enhance the song quality. I like that philosophy when looking at a song as it gives inspiration to try new things and the vibe of the song ends of being different from the first or second iteration of the song.

I want to give guitarist Enzo Malaspina his flowers and recognition on this album for the tracks “Peace of Mind” and “The Week.”  These two tracks mark the first time that his vocals have been at the forefront of the song rather than being backing vocals on a track, which is different from what we have heard before and well deserved as well. “Peace of Mind” is more of a hardcore style punk track where he and Armstrong both trade vocals with Malaspina’s being more abrasive and intense to those of Armstrong.

The track “The Week” has a contrasting vocal and musical style compared to “Peace of Mind” as the song is a stripped-down acoustic ballad where Malaspina’s vocals are quite soft in tone and pleasant to hear. When I first heard the track, I was blown away because I hadn’t heard anything quite like this song from the band before, but it was a welcome surprise, nonetheless.

The lyrics of the track appear to deal with the longing of someone who has left a lasting impression, and the narrator seems to not forget the relationship with this person. The somber lyrics along with the finger-styled acoustic guitar playing from Malaspina make it a beautiful yet a frighteningly haunting song that stands out from the rest of the songs on this album in a very good way.

I’m glad that “The Week” was able to see the light of day on this record.

Both tracks along with the album not only give the spotlight in Ultra Q to the rest of the members to showcase the chemistry and bond that they have developed from their experience playing music together but also the diverse range of musicianship each member has. They show that they are amazing at working together to bring forward a track that any will enjoy regardless of audience and the growth that they have had as musicians shone in the album from start to finish.

For those who haven’t gotten to see Ultra Q live yet, I highly recommend going to a show. The energy and passion that this group brings to their performances is unmatched from other bands that I have seen perform live and I’m excited to catch them again in Portland at Polaris Hall this summer.

While I know I am a huge fan of the band, I am not afraid to acknowledge it. I really do enjoy the music that they have made from both their time as Mt. Eddy and now as Ultra Q and cannot say enough about how much I love the music that these guys make. I’m excited for future Ultra Q music and albums to come as well as excited for sounds and genres they delve into next.

Give this album a listen, especially if you love punk rock music like I do.

Empty Eddy Track List:

  1. Waiting
  2. Beep Boop
  3. Meet in the Middle
  4. You and Me in Dreams
  5. Gror
  6. Peace of Mind
  7. Cold
  8. Some Dice
  9. The Week
  10. Mobile Suit
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