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Ha Ha Tonka

Death of a Decade (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., March 18, 2011

SXSW Records

Ha Ha Tonka

Death of a Decade (Bloodshot)

Named after Ha Ha Tonka State Park, located near their Missouri home base, this quartet reflects life in the Ozarks with a modern twist. Its first two discs were energetic and organic, a breed of indie rock with rootsy underpinnings that's come to public fruition lately with the success of bands like Mumford & Sons and Delta Spirit. On Death of a Decade, Ha Ha Tonka takes the harmonies and anthemic melodies one step further. With the group's refined storytelling, it's as if Mark Twain spent a couple of days listening to the Old 97's. The progressive-rock-leaning title track is one soaring hook after another, "Usual Suspects" stampedes a spinning mandolin riff, and "Dead Man's Hand" recalls the naivete of early Neil Young. HHT blends many bits of Americana past – and don't forget Paul Westerberg – but Death of a Decade sounds more like the birth of an important band. (Sat., 12:05am, Red Eyed Fly)

***.5

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