Ha Ha Tonka – Buckle in The Bible Belt

by Woody on September 6, 2007

ha ha tonka

The Missouri four-piece, Ha Ha Tonka, who’s name derives from a state park in Missouri, are getting set to release their debut on Bloodshot this month. Buckle In The Bible Belt was initially released under their previous name of Amsterband. Personally, I dig the Ha Ha Tonka moniker more. Fits the band much better.

Enough about the name. It’s the music that matters and it’s the music that delivers. Ha Ha Tonka combines the alt-country feel that Bloodshot is renowned for along with gospel-tinged, four-piece harmonies that help separate them from the rest of the pack. The album, which was recorded in an old church in Union, Missouri, fires out of the gate with “Up Nights” a song tackling methamphetamine abuse. What you’d expect to be a bleak song, the band attacks the subject with rollicking piano/keys that keeps the tune driving along and lead singer Brian Roberts’ voice fits like a glove.

Next up is the lead track “Saint Nick On The Fourth In A Fervor” which is the top track on the disc for me. “It’s an attempt to point out the fallacy of wrapping yourself in the flag, religion or, worse yet, both at the same time,” Roberts says of the single. The track opens with some of the aforementioned harmonies and dips and peaks for four minutes taking you on a nice ride. Roberts shows incredible range on this tune.

Later the Missouri boys really wow me with a cover of traditional folk tune, “Hangman.” The four-piece harmony a capello blows my mind giving me a flashback to Jerry & The Boys covering “And We Bid You Goodnight” which always had me leaving shows with a smile on my face.

The rest of the album is equally as impressive, with highlights that include “Caney Mountain” and “Bully In The Pulpit.” Overall this is a great debut by a band that seamlessly blends genres to produce a very unique sound.

Ha Ha Tonka – Caney Mountain

Ha Ha Tonka – St. Nick on the Fourth in a Ferver

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Shirk September 10, 2007 at 6:34 am

After a couple months of busy-ness in the studio, I’m pysched that these guys are scheduled for a HearYa Live Session the first week in October. Can’t wait to hear these guys lay it down. Love those harmonies. Should be a fun one. Good call Woody!

oz September 10, 2007 at 12:27 pm

Agreed. St Nick is a great track.

Vocals remind me of Mike Farris of the screamin cheetah wheelies at times.

Kevin September 14, 2007 at 5:40 pm

I caught these guys at the Beat Kitchen on Tuesday and was extremely impressed. Because it was their record release show, they played the whole album beginning to end, including the acappella Hangman. The harmonies sounded just as good, if not better live than they do on the album. And Shirk, they’re scheduled for a session? I’m excited for that.

Conner Murphy October 2, 2007 at 12:04 am

Best all around album in a while, they have created a sound that will soon be heard by millions.
peace to all

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