Amsterband | Buckle in the Bible Belt (self-released)

As a strong four-piece, the band utilizes its numerous musical talents, including a knack for four-part harmony, throughout their music. Following the 2004 release Beatchen, Amsterband returns with Buckle in the Bible Belt, where a new level of maturity and complexity peaks out from their songs. Relying a little less on their original folk-sounding base, the band breaks into traditional rock tempos with dips into deep-fried southern rock.

 

Amsterband: Buckle in the Bible Belt (self-released)

RIYL: Credence Clearwater Revival, Elliott Smith, R.E.M.

Amsterband is a Midwest rock band hailing from Springfield, Mo. With a mixture of folk, bluegrass, and southern rock, Amsterband sticks out from other groups with its own politically charged, religious delving lyrics and intense energy.

As a strong four-piece, the band utilizes its numerous musical talents, including a knack for four-part harmony, throughout their music. Following the 2004 release Beatchen, Amsterband returns with Buckle in the Bible Belt, where a new level of maturity and complexity peaks out from their songs. Relying a little less on their original folk-sounding base, the band breaks into traditional rock tempos with dips into deep-fried southern rock.

Early fans will not be dismayed, however, since the band pays homage to its Ozarkian roots by including the traditional folk song “Hangman” in the middle of the record. It was a gutsy choice and emphasizes that spiritual/soulful side of Amsterband. Impressively, it fits right in with the overall feel of Buckle.

“Up Nights” begins with driving piano chords and the solid lead vocals of Brian Roberts setting the tone. Then, with a few simple bass drum kicks, Buckle’s first single “St. Nick on the Fourth in a Fervor” explodes out of the speakers. Soaring vocals and screaming guitars come at the listener with a force. Lyrically, you get a sense of some social issues influencing the band’s music: religion, nationalism, and morality, with lines such as “What church do you belong to?/I’m owned by that one as well pledge white, red, and blue” and “I owe all my ideas to the ones I stole from you.”
“Gusto” has a harder edge and includes a catchy chorus about a stripper “wearing those same sad dollar bills.” The song gives an interesting social commentary on an area of America where churches, strip clubs, and meth labs, sadly, go hand in hand. For a change of subject, “Falling In” is a sweet pop love song followed by the traditional folk hymn “Hangman.”

Rock ’n’ roll returns when “Caney Mountain” kicks in with heavy guitars and drumbeats. Amsterband seamlessly melds bluegrass vocals into the rock beats. Roberts & Co. shut all the music down for the lyrical harmony, “High shined sequined buckle in that bible belt.”
“Cure for the Common Cold” was originally featured on an EP and is one of their strongest tunes. “You Lit Up the Night” completes the record with a softer, tender mood. Piano chords are prominent along with soulful lyrics: “I know I am poor/We’ve been through this before.”

Considering the serious issues considered in Amsterband’s music, one still feels hopeful and uplifted after listening. As a recording, Buckle in the Bible Belt captures Amsterband’s infectious live energy. This is a band not to be missed live so get off your duff and see them before they are the next “it” band and too popular for your-under-the-radar tastes.

 


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