| BS 181

Death Of A Decade

LP contains a digital download of the album with bonus materal

They sit at the crossroads of Americana and indie, where Alabama meets Arcade Fire, shakes their hand and takes them out for a drink.

Full Description

“Never. Never ask for what ought to be offered.”
—Daniel Woodrell, Winter’s Bone

There’s a certain wisdom that exists in the hills of the Ozarks. It’s a wisdom that spits out of the mouths of Woodrell’s characters; it’s a wisdom that is found in the lyrics by Woodrell’s fellow West Plains, Missouri natives, Ha Ha Tonka; and it’s a wisdom that’s found on the band’s latest album.

“They say that if you don’t change where you’re going / you’re gonna end up right where you’re headed.” —Ha Ha Tonka, “Made Example Of”

Without a doubt, Ha Ha Tonka take their stand as one of the best young bands in the US on this LP and marries authentic Southern songs with modern edges on Death of a Decade, without ever coming across as gimmicky.

The album was recorded in a 200-year-old old barn in New Paltz,NY with producer Kevin McMahon (Titus Andronicus, The Felice Brothers, The Walkmen), who made sure to capture the barn’s aural imperfections in creeking floorboards, and then mixed in Kansas City, MO by The Ryantist, who manipulated synthetic, sonic threads into this organic tapestry. The sound of Death of a Decade is where authentic meets modern, acoustic meets electronic, and tradition meets innovation.

Lyrically, Death of a Decade is less “story-based” than the last two albums (which pulled heavily from Missouri history and folklore for its lyrics), with the band now focusing on the transition into manhood—something that doesn’t automatically come once you pass a certain age: “I realize that youth is wasted on the young,” lead vocalist Brian Roberts sings on “Westward Bound,” “Oh, I now know that my wasting days are done.” However, Roberts says, Death of a Decade is not meant to be a requiem for lost youth, but rather an embrace of the notion that the passage of time is better than the alternative. There you have it again: the wisdom of the Ozarks.

Even if the album’s songs aren’t specifically of the Ozarks, the sound is—still there is traditional instrumentation (just listen to guitarist Brett Anderson’s killer arpeggio mandolin lines on “Usual Suspects” and “Made Example Of”), with bassist Lucas Long and drummer Lennon Bone rounding out the rhythm section to stampeding affect. Still there are the heart-stirring four-part gospel harmonies, a signature sound that sets Ha Ha Tonka apart from every other indie band-cum-Southern rock group that seems to be shambling out of the suburban woods these days.

Ultimately, what makes Ha Ha Tonka brand of Southern rockso special is that it’s authentic, it’s effortless, and it never comes across as forced. They’re masters at bringing together the traditional and the modern. They sit at the crossroads of Americana and indie, where Alabama meets Arcade Fire, shakes their hand and takes them out for a drink.

So, back to Woodrell’s Ozarkian wisdom from “Winter’s Bone,” being considered one of the best bands you’ll discover (or rediscover) isn’t something Ha Ha Tonka will need to ask for—it will be offered.

Short Description
  • Another stunner from a band that routinely pushes all the right sonic buttons...and finds the boys summoning all the floorboard-rattling power of a backwoods church to impart a sense of urgency to every track.

    — Hear Ya
  • The Missouri quartet is not only authentically scruffy, it tears at the heart of American roots music with every chord like Mumford only pretends to, and Death of a Decade basically oozes passion for the craft...

    — Washington Post
  • If you're looking for music that's smart, ambitious, literate, and fun at the same time, Death of a Decade could well be your introduction to your new favorite band.

  • Ha Ha Tonka are one of those all-too-rare bands that start off really good, then proceed to get steadily better each and every time out.  The upswing continues on Death of a Decade, which if there’s any justice will be the record that finally garners these rootsy rockers some of the mainstream acclaim they so richly deserve.

    — The Daily News Pittsburgh
  • Death of a Decade sounds more like the birth of an important band.

    — Austin Chronicle
  • In "Usual Suspects," the opening track from Death of a Decade, the Missouri band Ha Ha Tonka busts out of the gates like classic Replacements on an Ozark bender. Premised on a killer riff, a great beat and singer Brian Roberts' throaty roar, Ha Ha Tonka may have created the catchiest mandolin-driven rock song since "Losing My Religion."

    — NPR Music

Track List

  • 1. Usual Suspects
  • 2. Westward Bound
  • 3. Made Example Of
  • 4. Jesusita
  • 5. Lonely Fortunes
  • 6. Hide It Well
  • 7. Dead Man's Hand
  • 8. Problem Solver
  • 9. Death of a Decoade
  • 10. No Great Harm
  • 11. The Humorist


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