There is something about the music on “Story Like A Scar” that will titillate listeners at every turn; is it just that the lyrics do not match the sedate sounds of a track like “The Death of Us”, or the fact that the band itself rests on these same type of contradictions? Amazon links The New Amsterdams to Rocky Votolato, and I’d have to say that the comparison works.
The New Amsterdams do not have to grab their listeners and shock them into loving the band; all the songs on “Story Like A Scar” conform more or less to this sedate style. If listeners wish to slap The New Amsterdams with a genre style, I guess they’d have to find an “indie rock” sticker for the band. The biggest problem I foresee is that the band is so much more than an indie rock band; the compositions on “Story Like A Scar” are easily the equal to anything that listeners can find on new-classic discs like “Lifted” (Bright Eyes) or “Superstar Car Wash” (The Goo Goo Dolls).
The first two tracks on the disc go well past the four minute mark, so it is nice to hear the punchier song style of “Bad Liar”, a track that shows The New Amsterdams’ appreciation for the alternative rock of the earliest days of the nineties. Even if the track does not break the two minute mark, the inclusion of strings during the song makes this at least as compelling as anything else on “Story Like A Scar”. Further kudos has to go to The New Amsterdams for the inclusion of a lap guitar for the track. This is a disc of radio hits, done by a band that actually has half a clue. This is not merely the same track done ten times, either but rather a systemic approach to different styles of pop music. There is no reason that individuals should find fault with this disc, as it goes through every nuanced style in creating something that listeners can completely dig. Furthermore, the band gains a few extra points considering that they mess with the established norms concerning track length; the band has songs on “Story Like A Scar” that are as short as eighty seconds and are as long as five and a half minutes. If you consider yourself a fan of good music, make a journey to the local independent record store and pick it up.
Top Tracks: Bad Liar, The Death of Us
The New Amsterdams – Story Like A Scar / 2006 Vagrant / 10 Tracks / http://www.newams.net / http://www.vagrant.com / Reviewed 19 April 2006