(From left to right)
Shay Byington – Drums
Drew Weikart – Vocals, Lead Guitar
Chris Childress – Bass
Tyler Taylor – Rhythm Guitar, Keys, Vocals
When Colorado quartet, The Amends, shot their debut self-titled album out of the cannon in July 2011, they took an irreversible stride into a pond seething with what critics like to call “great potential”. Such a moniker is often snidely used as a brush-off for acts that are deemed as unremarkable and easy to dismiss, but The Amends beg to differ as their addictive second album, What We Could Be, truly lives up to the promise heralded in their earlier work.
What We Could Be is projected for an official release date of January 8, 2013, and is guaranteed to deliver an assemblage of tracks that weave between variations of blues and ‘90s alternative rock. The difference is that The Amends are a young and current band that isn’t at the tethered end of the musicians’ careers; this fast-rising Colorado act is one to watch. As soon as the appropriately-named first track Second Take clicks into place with its raunchy slow-burn, it’s easy to tell that What We Could Be is a neat package of contagious tunes that should by all means help push The Amends out of the puddle of potential and into steady delivery.
When the unrelenting feeling of road-rush and anticipating bass of A Certain Speed drives home as the album’s second track, a few improvements made since last year become evident. Drew Weikart has generally tightened his vocals with a more consistent colouring since the stylistic jumble of the 2011 album, thankfully avoiding the clumsy strain that induced a few winces on the album’s third track, Hey Regina. Tyler Taylor takes a cue from the band’s popular 2011 track Bored & Mean by sharply punctuating the rhythms and beat of Chris Childress and Shay Byington with the unmistakable jangling piano of classic rock ‘n’ roll in Big City Way.
The fact that The Amends can’t help but evoke brashly varied alt-rock acts like The Replacements becomes more obvious with the angst-ridden Make It So, the piano-driven melody of When She’s Gone, and the retro grooves of Time Goes On and Dreamer. Contemporary beats popular in indie-rock are well executed in Tick Tock, which is smoothly swept away on Weikart’s somewhat feline snarls, oddly seductive, in It’d Be Nice. Contemporary Americana gets a grin-inducing nod on the eleventh track Desperate Times with a sneaking harmonica. Come & See gives you a taste of The Amends’ ability to genre-bend, with striking post-rock influenced piano reverb and hollow vocals, before blasting you in the face with shiny riffs that live up to a proclamation of “Look alive if you want my time”.
The latter makes for a pleasant surprise in the compilation, teasing for a moment with the possibility of future work that could explore a similar sound. Occasional moments throughout the album may lack vocal refinement or beg for deeper exploration, like more daring riffs, but the improved continuity of What We Could Be over the inaugural album is unarguable. The new album turns out to be groovy enough to dance to. With its breaks and riffs, even head-banging isn’t out of the question. The lyrics are a bit shaggy and it’s not quite a technical opus, but it hits just the right spot.
If The Amends continue to balance new and old sound, and experiment with telling stories that could build their audience, it won’t be long before this band starts exploding, in the best of ways. After the taste-fest of the 2011 album, The Amends, the Colorado four are starting to carve a recognizable sound with tunes that burrow their way into your brain until you can’t help but hum them out. Until critics farther removed from the Boulder and Denver scene recognize the worth of The Amends, What We Could Be will remain the kind of album to which you could easily remember hanging out of the back of a spinning truck or lying spread-eagle on a rickety cottage dock with the obligatory mix of good friends and strong beer.
For more information on The Amends:
Official Website: www.theamendsmusic.com
Youtube: The Amends
Facebook: The Amends