Formerly known as Amsterband up until 2007, Ha Ha Tonka is a band originally formed in West Plains, Missouri in 2005. They renamed themselves after the Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton, Missouri.

Led by cancer survivor singer Brian Roberts (who openly criticized the American health system on their first album “Buckle in the Bible Belt” back in 2007), the four-piece band creates mature indie rock that will please Coldplay and Travis fans (Height of My Fears) with a bit more muscle and a great sense of Americana. Their music is solid and catchy without being too much sugar-coated.

Ha Ha Tonka carefully mixes acoustic and electric guitars to create a solid canvas on which Roberts can surf with his powerful voice, generating some uplifting moments, as in the power-pop song Land Beyond, that is made to become a crowd pleaser in live concerts. The band has toured the US many times.

 

Ha Ha Tonka sounds like the new model of the American band. They keep the essential of what makes US rock so powerful and authentic, but never fall into any clichés. Mandolins come in to support guitars here and there, and they keep that “band feeling” alive throughout the record.

One can also hear the influence of Americana songwriters like Tom Petty (especially on Favor and on The Party, one of the strongest songs of the record) or John Mellencamp (Arkansas), as much as more contemporary acts like Crooked Fingers or Okervill River, maybe with a stronger radio feel.

“Heart-Shaped Mountain” is the 5th record of Ha Ha Tonka, and hopefully the one that will bring this band’s music to many more ears.

HA HA TONKA band

HA HA TONKA
Heart-Shaped Mountain
(Bloodshot Records, 2017)

-Genre: indie americana rock
-In the same ballpark as Travis, Coldplay, Tom Petty, Crooked Fingers

Buy the album on Google Play
Follow the band via their Facebook page
Listen to videos on the band’s YouTube channel

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About The Author

Nicolas Pelletier

Mélomane invétéré et rédacteur agréé, Nicolas pratique la critique en mode olympique: il parle de tout, tout le temps, depuis 1991. Il a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur enMusique.ca, dont il a également été le rédacteur-en-chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie “Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique” en 2013, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016.