Ha Ha Tonka – Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South [Album Review]

by Woody on May 4, 2009

Ha Ha Tonka

Ha Ha Tonka’s Buckle In The Bible Belt is one of the best albums I’ve come across in quite some time. I’ve spun that disc and seen the boys live countless times and have been looking forward to their sophomore follow up like very few before. When I finally got my hands on Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South, I was half expecting it to fix our economy and cure cancer just by pressing play.

Obviously Ha Ha Tonka didn’t consult me when writing the album, so its sound didn’t match my preconceptions. I gave it a few more spins before heading to Austin for SXSW, where I ran into Ha Ha bass guitarist Luke Long at The Bloodshot Records BBQ. We started talking about the new album and I gave him my honest opinion – it was growing on me and I wished they rocked a few of the songs longer (most songs never pass the three minute mark). Luke said that on Novel Sounds Ha Ha had set out to make a challenging record and wanted keep moving their sound forward. As artists, they didn’t want to rehash Buckle again. It would be boring.

Well I don’t know if it was that talk with Luke or seeing Ha Ha Tonka jam out their new tunes at SXSW, but something clicked that day in Austin. Since my return, I’ve had Novel Sounds of the Noveau South on repeat, enjoying the 3 and 4 piece harmonies that made Buckle one of my favorites. While our economy still remains in turmoil, the album has turned out to be every bit the worthy successor to their debut that I’d hoped and I now fully appreciate the band’s direction. Is it better than Buckle In The Bible Belt? Not quite yet. But the lines are about to cross.

“Close Every Valve To Your Bleeding Heart” is my current favorite. Lead Singer, Brian Roberts’ voice is so true and genuine that it stops you in your tracks. Other standouts are “Walkin on the Devil’s Backbone” and the closer, “Thoreau In The Woods.”

Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South will be released on June 16th and the band is on tour.

Website | MySpace | Bloodshot Records

Ha Ha Tonka – Walking On The Devil’s Backbone

Ha Ha Tonka – Close Every Valve To Your Bleeding Heart

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

DBT Chicago May 5, 2009 at 8:50 am

good music and good guys all the way around. saturday at sub-t was a fun time.
look forward to the album, which comes out on my 34th birthday.

Nick May 5, 2009 at 9:16 am

Can’t wait for the new record. The songs you posted are great. 9 more like that and we’ve got a winner.
Just saw these guys in Chicago on Saturday night.
And much like Woody’s assessment of new songs, I just wished it was longer. But I’m greedy, they coulda played for 2 hours and I would have wanted them to play another 45 minutes.
That being said, they should always end shows with “Black Betty” from here on out.

Brad Matthew May 6, 2009 at 10:13 am

The new record is amazing! I have had it on repeat as well. They have come a long way since Bible Belt. The show at SubT really summed it up. Check out my review.

Fan October 8, 2009 at 6:14 pm

As a fellow missourian/ozarkian I have to say it makes me proud to see artists making real music from my state. This is the best album of the year and if the grammys actually focused on real music I would bet they would win a couple. The feelings from this record are pure and true to the ozarks. They are among the greats in missouri’s music history.

Libboson July 31, 2012 at 2:59 am

This CD is simply fantastic! I was not easy to find this CD and had to import through the site. I recommend to all, one of the best collections of songs of all time! My favorite is definitely So Quiet, They’re Loud. Thanks for your share .

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