Ultra V mixes decent music,
Bring On the Fuego
*** (out of five stars)
By Shiley Carter
Daily Cougar Staff
When a group of New Yorkers decide to pick
up and move to the sunny California, you have to expect them to experience
culture shock. From the fast-paced,
often rainy and cold cement-filled crowded
roads of New York, to the laid-back, sunny and warm, palm tree-lined streets
of California, the members of Ultra V
thought they were going to take some time
But the warm winter they encountered only
inspired this five-piece to work a little harder on their first album for
RCA. As a matter of fact, the infectious attitude
of the California life-style proved to
be even inspirational for the turn to a more upbeat feeling in the music.
While lounging in the hotel pool and catching
some rays before and after work on their album, Bring on the Fuego, bass
player Maggie Kim and the hotel
bartender managed to concoct a new beverage
that turned into a regular drink for getting the band trashed while living
The drink, named Ultra V, became the band's
name because of its prominence in their drunken lives at the Mondrian Hotel.
Ultra V is also a little something
special in the movie A Clockwork Orange
(if you have not seen it, go rent it and you'll understand). This could
be another reason for the name of the drink and the band since lead vocalist
Chris Kennedy is such a movie fanatic that at least three of the songs
on the album deal with some of his favorite movies and characters.
James Smolka/RCA Records
The name Ultra V might sound familiar to fans of the film
A Clockwork Orange, but this quintet also took its name from a mixed drink
invented in part by bass player Maggie Kim.
Combining elements from pop, thrash metal,
rock and trip-hop, Ultra V falls short of anything sounding even remotely
like thrash metal or rock. A poppy,
trip-hop, alternative sound best describes
the music on Bring on the Fuego. Their first single, "Playboy Mansion,"
sets the trend for the album as the first
The song might remind one of local band
Faceplant, in that it sounds like something that should be played at a
party, or more specifically, a frat party. Its
free-flowing beats and grooving bass lines
are accompanied by less than interesting vocals and lyrics.
In fact, simple and repetitive catchy phrases
are used throughout the album making it perfect for the drunken, slurring
crowd found at parties where this music
is welcome. Its depth is nonexistent and
its appeal is slacking. While some popularity may come from the fact that
the seventh track on the album, "Can I
Crash Here Tonite?," was originally embraced
by the TV series Roswell, little else stands out in Ultra V's music on
this particular album.
It should be noted that the band's best
musician is Maggie Kim, its bass player. She can definitely throw some
bass lines that can make even the most
uninterested music fan want to groove.
But the songs are lacking when it comes to lyrics and vocal skills -- which
tend to sound a bit pushed.
But "Alphabet Lounge" and "Shut Your Mouth,"
find the band achieving a good sound with a nice variance between the two
Basing many of their songs on pop culture's
sex and money addiction, and having written much of the album under the
hypnotized trance of California, it's
understandable why Fuego lacks depth.
It was meant to be fun with an upbeat attitude.
Ultra V will be recognized as a party band with music perfect for the beach.
But little more than that will ever
come of this band unless it works out
a few loose strings.