Friday, September 27, 2013

Ha Ha Tonka- Lessons

I've mentioned that I like Ha Ha Tonka before.  I still like them for the same reason- they play southern country influenced Indie Rock, but with a depth that's missing from some of the better-known purveyors of the genre.
For one, they're better than your Mumford and Lumineer crowd by virtue that they're not trying to recreate a past style. No faux-authentic Folksiness. They're a lot closer to the Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie end of the pop-rock Indie spectrum, but also unafraid of a mandolin, or pedal steel. There are few things that turn me off as much as "Hey everybody, come listen to this authentic-sounding folk song I just wrote in the old-timey style". Likewise, ignoring the gospel, bluegrass, Appalachian background to American rocknroll is a major mis-step of many Indie rock bands. Trying to rediscover musical lessons that were learned 30 to 50 years ago seems a bit of a cul de sac to me, so it's a tough road to toe- you can just as easily end up like My Morning Jacket, accidentally re-creating the Grateful Dead, or like the Kings of Leon who sound like what happens when a Georgia Satellites cover band discovers U2.
I both understand and am mystified why Ha Ha Tonka aren't huge- they really do sound like Arcade Fire meets Mumford and Sons, but walk the narrow path that takes the few good elements of each ( the Springsteen styled Anthemic fistpumpers of Arcade Fire, and the Bluegrass complexity of Mumford) . I think they're too authentically themselves to be as big as a band chasing the  mental gymnastics required to sound "authentic".
So, anyway, the new one is called "Lessons"and it's a good rock and roll record.

No comments:

Post a Comment