new amsterdams - story like a scar (mar.30th/06)

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Album: Story like a scar
Artist: New amsterdams
Label: Vagrant
Rating: 7.8/10
MP3: Turn out the light

Ten years with one of the most popular emo/punk/indie bands, the Get up Kids and three albums with his side project (now full time project), the New Amsterdams you'd think fans would know what to expect from Matt Pryor and assume he developed a pattern for his song writing. Well, the new record, Story Like a Scar shows that is not the case.

Matt was quite open about how he wasn't enjoying his time with the GUKs, and after a great farewell tour, he began focusing on the New Ams full time. The band line-up was finalized and the New Ams was more than just a project he could write songs for when he wasn't on the road. This really shows on the record.

Combining more instrumentation and a more rootsy feel to the songs, you are taken to small town America. The simple stand up bass riffs provide a great backbone for the songs, and Matt's voice and guitar are filled out with so many new subtle textures and layers (Lap steel, banjo, harmonica, brushed drums, pump organ, piano, Wurlitzer and the Rhodes) you really feel a sincerity in this reflective record. The album is a more focused effort from start to finish and I think a lot of the credit has to do with the band. Dustin, Eric and Bill are seasoned vets and bring a lot of talent to the studio, which really give the songs an organic feel.

The songs are almost mellow, and show an evolution from the upbeat, acoustic dominated track of the first two New Ams records. The single, 'Turn Out the Light', is a song dedicated to his life on the road and how hard it is for his wife and kids. Realizing family is what matters helps you realize how much of Matt has grown and how much of himself he puts into these songs.

It might seem cliché but the songs are about love lost, growing up and finding home. While these are pretty well the most common themes in country influenced or roots rock albums, knowing the journey Matt took to get here helps you believe in what he's singing. On first listen, I heard 'Bad Liar' and thought it sounded a lot like the material the GUK were playing before they broke up. This makes sense when you listen to the lyrics, which are a telling commentary on the fall and demise of the Get up Kids.

The beautiful, 'A Small Crusade', shows that Matt realizes he's found what he wants in life and music. The New Ams are more than a few good singles on an album with filler. Story Like a Scar shows that, like Matt, the band is moving in a direction they are finally happy with. "Sometimes you have to scrap everything to find yourself."


Check out the New Ams at Dick's on Dicks May. 24th.

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