Music We Love: Nakamara to Release Self-Titled Album

True adherents to the phrase “write what you know,” Denton band Nakamara have crafted their self-titled debut album as a jazzy homage to all things “college town life.”

Made up of bassist Azael Martinez, drummer Wiley Reid, and vocalist/guitarist Sam Decker, Nakamara is a local band on the rise. The group’s spirited, feel-good tunes have been catching the attention of listeners Denton-wide, particularly college kids—not surprising for a group of current and former UNT students.

However, as Nakamara make a name for themselves, they do not only want to be popular—they want to be great. Their first album is an apt reflection of this fact. Although well-composed and aggressively catchy, Nakamara is more than meets the ears.

The album opens with a track entitled “Alpha”: a vast, cinematic soundscape not unlike the intro music to a film. As we learn, this is a fitting choice—the body of the album can be described as a series of musical vignettes depicting various scenes from young life, ranging from the party anthem to the post-breakup lament to the somber ballad conveying the narrator’s deep sense of remorse and isolation. In general, though, all tracks on Nakamara are light and upbeat; in fact, twenty-something listeners will find that the album’s fun, flavorful tone is almost emblematic of college town nightlife.

True to form, Nakamara lean hard on their warm, relaxed “bar patio” sound. Describing their brand as “music to chill to, shows to hype to,” the band clearly puts a great deal of thought into crafting danceable beats and memorable hooks. But their tendency is not to settle—Nakamara’s jazzy bass lines, frequent tempo changes, skittering drum embellishments, and deep, full ambiance keep the more poppy elements of their sound in check. In truth, Nakamara lives at an intersection of rock, jazz, hip hop, and R&B. Its tracks are catchy, yes, but also crisp, smooth, and surprisingly intelligent.

As though to remind listeners of this musical versatility, Nakamara close their album with another instrumental piece, fittingly entitled “Omega.” Unlike the album’s introductory track, “Omega” is stylistically similar to the rest of the album, only set apart by its lack of lyrical content. At first, it may seem a strange choice to pair such a theatrical intro with a more subdued outro; however, this asymmetry is arguably even more appropriate. When contrasted with the grandeur of “Alpha,” it becomes clear that “Omega” does not signal the closing credits of the slice-of-life scene set by Nakamara—just an interlude.

Here’s to waiting for Part Two.

Nakamara's self-titled release is currently scheduled to drop Saturday, November 5th. Keep your ears to the ground. You can catch them at Band Together Denton on Friday, January 20th.

Header photo by Tony Casillas
Header image design by Brittany Keeton

Elaine Ballard