First came the chicken, then the egg, then Amsterband and
finally Ha Ha Tonka. You could probably trace the official
beginning of these four guys to 2006 when Buckle In The Bible Belt
was released. Yet with time comes name changes; though a rose by any
.well let's just say that that amazing band is still
It's three years later and Ha Ha Tonka have finally made it back
into the studio for their sophomore album. Novel Sounds Of The
Nouveau South takes that music you came to love in Buckle...
and puts just a bit of new-fangled spin on it, making it perfect for
an outdoor adventure.
"Pendergast Machine" starts off our meander down Jacks
Fork River (cuts through the Ozarks of Missouri - home to Ha Ha).
Now the fact that this song's title is based off some interesting
political Missouri history makes you wonder the significance of the
lyrics themselves. Perhaps it's best not to know, because I feel as
though that would take away from the strength and power of the music.
Besides Brian's almost angry voice there's really only electric
guitar, though the guitar feels like it's a little angry itself. The
presence of any other instrument would take away from the simplicity
of this song. With "Hold My Feet To The Fire" the guys moved
away from the seriousness and brought up the tempo a bit. In this
one I can't decide which element is my favorite, either Brett and
his lead guitar that easily distinguishes itself from the group with
a set of precision rock notes that seem to get embedded in your subconscious,
or there are those great quintessential Tonka harmonies that always
make you wonder if there's a choir [in the] background. But then again,
they have managed to find a way to mix the two, so perhaps I don't
have to choose. I have to jump down to "Walking On The Devils
Backbone," mostly because for some inexplicable reason I will
find myself singing the first part of this song to myself and naturally
leading into a burst of dancing. Though, I think the main reason is
this song brings me back to a time of "St. Nick On The Fourth
In A Fevor" or "Gusto" from their first album. This
is where we get "down-home rock," a type of music that can
comfort you, while grooving you to the point of pure exhaustion. The
drums on this one help out significantly with the whole grooving aspect.
And if you listen closely, it seems that Lennon's figured out
a sound that's nearly perfect for an old west scene (hoof beats perhaps?).
As you're undeniably covered in sweat now, they recognize this and
give you a moment or two to take a breath. "Close Every Valve
Of Your Beating Heart" is so beautiful, that the only thing that
would make it better would be to hear it on an old screened-in porch
next to that river we're floating down. It's nearly acoustic, and
I say nearly because the beginning is acoustic and basically solo,
just Brian and his guitar. It's not until after a minute has passed,
that a hint of drums sneaks in. But that's all it takes, because a
few moments later and you've got electricity surging out the other
instruments, practically knocking you down. But don't worry, 'cause
Brian will pick you back up at the end. I could sit here and delve
into each song, but I'll only focus on a couple more: "So Quiet,
They're Loud." Remember that river we're meandering down? This
is the song I would want to hear for that trip. The harmonies (of
all four, including Luke) would match perfectly to the sun
dancing through the trees and the guitar/drums to that of the brook
babbling into the river. If anything's "plugged" you can't
tell and you'd almost prefer that it's not. Just sit back, close your
eyes and listen to the music. Lastly, to throw just a little bit more
musicianship at ya, they have "Thoreau In The Woods," whose
delicate guitar intro has such the Radiohead resemblance, it
could make you fall in love [with the song].
I'm not sure I ever really need to visit the Ozarks, as I'm taken
there everytime I listen to Ha Ha Tonka. You get the distinction that
the guys have grown up a bit since Bible..., but that's all
for the best. You want your favorite band to make an album like this.
It's an experience in every sense of the word.
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