ULTRA Q IS ALL GROWN UP IN THEIR DEBUT ALBUM 'MY GUARDIAN ANGEL'
Kayla Moreno ⋅ Jun 11, 2023
There is something extraordinarily special about watching a band grow from the ground up. Since December 2019, Ultra Q shows have acted as a second home for myself, my friends, and countless others who all connected with the "new" band's expanding body of work. As a Bay Area girl, I'm always ready and willing to support hometown bands. However, I did not realize how much of a staple Ultra Q would become in my rotation when I first heard their work in 2019.
This debut record was a long time coming. From the first EP, 'We're Starting To Get Along,' Ultra Q has developed an unmistakable signature sound that can only be described as "ethereal."
Ultra Q's world is identified by dreamy guitar tones paired with haunting vocals. With influences like The Strokes, The Cure, and Turnstile, Ultra Q has a variety of reference points to pull from, yet they are able to create something that is uniquely theirs. Songs like 'Klepto' remind me a lot of their older music, just elevated to validate their time honing in on their skills individually and as a unit.
Frontman Jakob Armstrong has described Ultra Q as primarily a "live band." That is to say that Armstrong believes that their recorded tracks are great, but their live shows are what people get excited about.
I agree that I'll go see them any time they're in town, but I find myself reaching for their records whenever I feel that I'm missing something. I may have left the Bay Area over a decade ago, but these little puzzle pieces make it seem a bit closer.
And these puzzle pieces keep falling into place. The album's version of 'Teether' was a pleasant surprise and another great example of the band's growth. Originally released as part of a pandemic project ('In A Cave In A Video Game'), 'Teether' is a crowd favorite. Aesthetically, 'Teether' is, to me, the bridge between the first EP and where the band is heading for the foreseeable future.
Armstrong suggests, "I might wanna try growing up (up, up) instead."
I'd say they have.
Seeing a band grow up right before your eyes, a bit like a Chia Pet, is amazing, but growing up alongside them is even better.
Speaking of returning to roots, "So Very Emo" is incredibly resonant, in a number of ways. Enzo's solo at the bridge instantly became a new favorite, much like when I heard "What D'You Call It" for the first time.
"So Very Emo" is appropriately titled, too. The repeated lyric, "nothing I do is for you," is brutal.
My Guardian Angel follows the exact path I expected Ultra Q to take. You can even hear nods to their old band, Mt. Eddy, throughout the 38-minute LP (namely: "Web Web Web"). Which is wonderful, because Mt. Eddy still has some fervent supporters. There's a guy that comes to every Ultra Q show to shout "play Chroma!" It's worked a few times!
Mt. Eddy may have included the same lineup as Ultra Q (Jakob Armstrong, Enzo Malaspina, Kevin Judd, Chris Malaspina), but they've done more than simply change their name. They have taken the core elements of a budding signature sound, refined it, and made it unforgettable. Enzo and Chris are the biological siblings of the group, giving them a Van Halen-esque advantage, but the four of them truly are brothers.
Their musical chemistry is difficult to match, and it shines through the entirety of their debut album. You could not have Ultra Q without any one of the key players contributing their strengths. They are all most evenly present within the mix of "I Wanna Lose," where Chris and Kevin really do shine. Those bass and drum lines will be stuck in my head for a while.
This is the first time I've listened to a body of work by Ultra Q and not wished that the songs were longer, and I mean that in a good way. I'd always wanted more from the EPs because I knew what they were capable of and I wished the tracks were 3 minutes long instead of 2.
Sometimes, life takes you 500 miles away from home. However, I think you always find your way back. Home can even be found in a sweaty, crowded room of strangers watching a band play songs you've heard live a hundred times.
They can play them a hundred more.
I'll be there.
Catch Ultra Q on tour https://www.ultraqmusic.com/tour
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