Ghost Robot Ninja Bear - Ghost Robot Ninja Bear (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Ghost Robot Ninja Bear

Ghost Robot Ninja Bear (2011)


Considering he broke up Nakatomi Plaza due to feeling burned out, Oscar A. Rodriguez sure has kept busy musically. Last year saw the debut of two new projects, Ludlow Lions and the awesomely titled Ghost Robot Ninja Bear. This year brings a delivery on GRNB's promising two singles; Ghost Robot Ninja Bear is yet another solid post-hardcore effort from Rodriguez.

While Ludlow Lions were an artistic departure for Rodriguez, he certainly seems determined to keep Nakatomi Plaza's sound alive with GRNB. This self-titled effort recalls plenty of NP's elements–pounding drums and shredding guitars abound, and ex-NP bassist/vocalist Al Fair even shows up on "Obviously Midnight". I have mixed feelings about Rodriguez pursuing his signature sound without his old bandmates, but he's not the first artist to do so. Besides, Ghost Robot Ninja Bear rips.

"The Curtain Call" opens the eight-track collection, and it's a fitting introduction. Guitarists Rodriguez and Jordan Melkin power through huge, chunky riffs with all the urgency they can muster before Rodriguez lets off another one of his high-quality guitar solos, switching from soaring ‘n' melodic to discordant and angry at will. "Watching Me Watching You", however, dials down that energy ever so slightly for a more indie/post-punk dance vibe, something Nakatomi Plaza never quite pursued.

Indeed, while half of the album repeats the Plaza formula, Ghost Robot Ninja Bear still slips in a few tracks that play with the formula, such as the slower, more atmospheric "I Can't Decide". Granted, that track is then followed by "Last Time We Talked" and the Private Property-ish "Pilots", which are real romper-stompers, but there's still some variety.

Closing cut "Obviously Midnight", originally by Scarce, comes of a little like "The Finish Line", the last track on Nakatomi Plaza's swansong Ghosts, at least sonically, so it makes sense for Fair to show up with her old songwriting partner again. But as much as it looks back to Nakatomi Plaza, it's still a great closer for Ghost Robot Ninja Bear. It's beautiful and melodic in its acoustic first half, thoroughly rocking in its second portion, and a reminder that while Nakatomi Plaza may be gone, Rodriguez is still cranking out quality tunes at a rapid pace.