Ha Ha Tonka, 'Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South' (Bloodshot)

Critical Mass
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by David Peisner

What do Sherman, Thoreau, Dostoevsky, and the Holy Ghost have in common? All pop up on Ha Ha Tonka's second album and, in large part, define its contours. Novel Sounds is violent, literate, unapologetic Southern rock: With its angelic organ and snarling guitars, "The Outpouring" conjures the Allmans, "Hold My Feet to the Fire" drops gospel harmonies over a boogie-­woogie backbeat, and the fingerpicked "Close Every Valve to Your Bleeding Heart" builds from tender to raging without a false note. The Kings of Leon comparisons will be legion and, for better or worse, apt.

Watch: Ha Ha Tonka, "St. Nick on the Fourth in a Fervor"

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