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Amsterband
Buckle In The Bible Belt
Bloodshot Records
www.amsterband.com


I don't think that I ever really knew what "down-home rock" was. That is until I heard Amsterband's newest album Buckle In The Bible Belt. This is their sophomore album and it is the kind of music that takes you to a completely different time and place. A time of a simpler life, with less worries and less cares. And a place filled with BBQs, dancehalls, friends and family. Here, let me explain more.

Buckle In The Bible Belt is really the most appropriate name for this album. Because that's exactly where I would imagine this sound would come from. From the first song "Up Nights", the energy on this album is amazing. It's the kind of music that gets your feet tapping, and not just in the sense of the beat but in the sense that you feel compelled to (and can't stop). In this song you get a taste of some bluegrass, which by nature is distinctively acoustic. In "Up Nights" the main instruments seem to be piano, light drums and a little guitar. The latter two accompany the piano's main melody throughout the song, making this song easy on the ears. Next is "St. Nick On The Fourth In A Fervor" which is also the band's first video off of the album. With this track I feel like I'm thrown back in time... Perhaps to a time in the early 1900s where music was a little bit of a southern rock style, mixed in with some imaginative folklore. The four-part harmonies, coupled with the sharp guitar riffs, add nicely to lyrics that are a little more intuitive than simply [being about] breaking up with a girl. Delving into subjects like religion and nationalism makes Brian (lead vocals) seem wise beyond his years. "Hangman" is my personal favorite off the record. It may be the shortest song, coming in at 1:34, but I believe it's the song that stands out the most. In today's age it's a rare thing to have an album that leans more towards the acoustic, but to have an a cappella song is really a diamond in the rough. For the 1:34 you really get to experience the talent that these four guys possess. The harmonies are enchanting and the lyrics tell a great story, which seems to be straight from the pages of a history book set in Salem, Mass. in the 1600s. "Caney Mountain" may not be the last song, but it is the one that ties everything in, including the album title. This time around the lyrics suggest a theme leaning more towards possibly a gospel type tone. And the fact that half way through the song, all the instruments stop and you simply hear the lyrics "I should seek that buckle in the Bible belt, I should seek that buckle in the middle of that Bible belt." keeps that gospel feel going. However in this song, the presence of the lead guitar is stronger and more significant, which steers it back towards that Southern/down-home rock. Either way, the energy is definitely still there and continues to carry on throughout the rest of the album.

It's practically hopeless for me to try and compare this album or band to someone else. Everyone today is trying to be new and different, so as to have an edge on the competition. Well, Amsterband has done it. Never before have I gotten hooked on a song about going to church and the fourth of July, or had more fun dancing to a song about the Bible belt. It's new, it's different and it sounds good to me!

-Rachel Fredrickson

Track Listing:
1. Up Nights
2. St. Nick On The Fourth In A Fervor
3. Gusto
4. Falling In
5. Hangman
6. Caney Mountain
7. Cure For The Common Cold
8. Bully In The Pulpit
9. Cureall
10. You Lit Up The Night


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Mike Doughty



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