Buckle In The Bible Belt
The band’s first single from the album, "St. Nick on the Fourth in a Fervor" combines harmonies and biting guitar riffs with lyrics that delve into issues of nationalism, religious allegiances, and rites of passage. “It’s an attempt to point out the fallacy of wrapping yourself in the flag, religion or worse yet, both at the same time,” explained singer/guitarist Brian Roberts. The song also depicts better times, with the refrain “…this glimpse of brilliance is much better than your long look at mediocrity.” “Gusto” and “Up Nights” tackle the tragic legacy of methamphetamine in rural areas while “Hangman” and original “Caney Mountain” mine the deep veins of regional folk music.
Buckle in the Bible Belt was recorded, fittingly, in an old church in Union, Missouri, with a control booth where the pulpit had once been. Augmented with piano and organ, the songs bring to mind southern bands like REM and Kings of Leon as well as classics like The Band and Bruce Springsteen.
Formed in 2004 under the name Amsterband, the band released their debut CD, Beatchen and hit the road, playing with a diverse range of acts including Tapes’ n’Tapes, Say Anything, Soul Asylum, Limbeck and Robert Randolph & The Family Band. The band self-released Buckle in the Bible Belt in 2006 before catching the attention of Bloodshot Records and signing their deal in May 2007. The band decided a name change was in order, and chose Ha Ha Tonka, the name of a state park in the Ozarks.