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Buckle In the Bible Belt

Ha Ha Tonka

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Album Review

Formerly known as Amsterband, Missouri's Ha Ha Tonka burst out of the starting gate on their album Buckle in the Bible Belt with "Up Nights," an up-tempo union of alt country twang, indie rock melodic efficiency, and barrelhouse energy as they deliver an oblique but bitter lyric that on close inspection turns out to be about child abuse. It's only the first of many surprises on Buckle in the Bible Belt, and just about all of them are welcome; in a genre where lots of guitar is the order of the day, Brett Anderson's rollicking keyboards bring some welcome (and non-ironic) boogie to the mix, though Anderson and Brian Roberts do know how to rock the six-string when the songs call for it, and the band isn't afraid to show they're tight and blessed with impressive chops while also having the good sense to keep the songs tuneful and concise (nothing over four minutes, and the disc wraps up in under a half-hour). Ha Ha Tonka manage the neat trick of keeping their music engaging and genuinely fun while tackling some serious subject matter in their lyrics, such as the failings of organized religion ("Saint Nick on the Fourth in a Fervor"), consumer culture ("Cure for the Common Cold") and organized racism ("Caney Mountain"). Buckle in the Bible Belt's no-nonsense production lets the music do the talking, and it speaks up loud and clear; Ha Ha Tonka deserve more than thirty minutes to share all they have on their minds, but it's an impressive starting point and fine listening.

Customer Reviews

Eye-opener

I was just introduced to Ha Ha Tonka a few days ago when they opened for The Clarks in Columbus. I was a little concerned with whether I'd like them at first. From the Ozarks? The middle of the Bible Belt? Well, thank goodness all of my concerns were blasted away after the first song. There's an energy to the live show that you don't quite get from the album, but it does give you a taste of the greatness that is this band. They do some things that I haven't head in quite a while, such as harmonize, and the track "Hangman" is a haunting gem of a folksy sort of acapella. I didn't think it would be for me, but I'm hooked. St. Nicks on the Fourth in a Fervor is a fun song, with a rhythm that makes you want to move. If you have any sort of interest in things a little off the beaten path (and by that I mean things that aren't mass-produced cookie cutter music), then I highly recommend Ha Ha Tonka.

Hometown Heroes

Well I love this band. The drummer, bassist, and lead singer (Lennon, Luke, and Brian) all grew up and went through high school in my hometown, West Plains, Mo, and they love to come back every now and have shows at our old theater. It is a really great atmosphere and they are really great guys. I may seem biased toward their music, but I love this album and this band for their musical abilities. They also do amazing covers of songs at live shows. They are definitely a must see!!!! Oh, and if you appreciate the awesome harmonies in their songs, you'll like to know that they do them perfectly live.

Tonk-a-tastic!

We saw Ha Ha Tonka live in Cleveland... they were EXCELLENT! This is some kick @ss music!!! It is original yet very listenable upon the first hearing! We give it a 10! We especially love that drummer!!!!!

Biography

Formed: 2004 in Springfield, MO

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Indie rock band Ha Ha Tonka were formed in 2004 in Springfield, Missouri, by singer/guitarist Brian Roberts with Lucas Long (bass, vocals), Brett Anderson (keyboards, guitar, vocals), and Lennon Bone (drums, vocals). Initially, the name of the group was Amsterband. It was with this moniker that they released their debut CD, Beatchen, and began to tour extensively. In 2006, they followed with a second self-released album, Buckle in the Bible Belt. In May 2007, they signed to independent Chicago-based...
Full Bio
Buckle In the Bible Belt, Ha Ha Tonka
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