Ha Ha Tonka
SONGS THAT GOT US: “Caney Mountain,” “St. Nick on the Fourth in a Fervor”
ON THE TUBES: MySpace, Web site, Facebook, YouTube
RECORD LABEL: Bloodshot
WHY THEM? I’m sure someone still loves you, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, but we’ve moved on to Ha Ha Tonka. Over the course of a heavy year of touring the country, they’ve refined their mix of sunlit bluegrass, or-nery indie-punk, and Smoky Mountain folk resulting in the lovely new Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South. Imagine Wilco’s most tolerable moments brought to life with the beer-tilting kicks of Kings of Leon — now jab it with a hickory stick and make it angry.
BONUS BITS! Lead singer Brian Roberts is a cancer survivor, and his experience with the American health-care system informs many of his band’s political leanings. Their new album takes its premise from early-20th-century writer Harold Bell Wright’s 1907 novel set in the Missouri Ozarks The Shepherd of the Hills. The novel’s name carries on in the form of the Shepherd of the Hills Theater in Branson, Missouri’s mecca of tackiness.