Record Review: ‘What We Could Be’ by The Amends

2011 was a big year for The Amends; especially after a series of EP releases; the band dropped their debut, self-titled album. Being of a mix of indie rock, blues, alternative, The Amends followed through with the band’s own personal credo:  its got to rock! And indeed, this first album does. The bulk of the songs have a great back beat, making them dance-able, but, more so, the band knows how to write catchy guitar hooks, and make the kind of music that’ll have your toes tapping and and your right foot pressing harder on that car’s pedal. The blend of styles here is certainly unique, as you can hear bands like The Strokes, Vampire Weekend, and The Black Crowes emanate from those ten tracks. That’s not to say that this is a band that blatantly wears its influences on its sleeves; instead they have a vision that begins on The Amends.

The group originally formed in January of 2010 as a product of Boulder, Colorado. The band consists of Drew Weikart on lead guitar/vocals, Tyler Taylor on backing vocals, keyboards, and rhythm guitar, Chris Childress on bass and Shay Byington on drums. The original songwriting team of Weikart and Taylor reprise their roles again, but on their new album – What We Could Be – what comes through is a band that sounds more cohesive; still ready to rock your socks off, but with more tools at their disposal and boy do they know how to use them.

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One instantly notes on the opening track, “Second Take,” that the production value has increased exponentially. At times, The Amends, while impressive for a debut, felt a little amateurish in production, but here, everything is tighter. The song structures overall, have improved and the vision of what this band IS, more intricately defined.

The Amends amp things up, especially on tracks like “A Certain Speed,” which has one of the raunchiest riffs they’ve ever recorded. The guitar fills on that song speak to the band’s maturity, while maintaining their “rock” aesthetic. The beat will certainly have your foot tapping. The subsequent track, “Big City Way,” has a big, sexy bass line, coupled with this “old timey” piano and some heavy riffage. The song is built to feel heavy, and there is this moment toward the end of the song where this raunchy guitar line plays along side the piano, making this past/present comparison that works surprisingly well together. The last two tracks – “Desperate Times” and “Come & See” – pack a hell of a one-two punch to close the album out. “Desperate Times” is a carefree kind of track, with a lazy guitar and the catchiest hook on the album. “Come & See” has a haunting opener, as a piano and Weikart’s vocals echo all over the track, and minimalism provides a vessel for maximum impact. The song unfurls slowly over six plus minutes, but leads to great big choruses, and sprawling guitar solos, in a way that put the band out there like never before.

This is a record to be admired; for the evolution of a band is a fun thing to witness, especially if you’ve been there from the beginning. This is a band that I’ve come to admire, and can’t wait to see what the future brings. Their dream will only become more complex and their execution of that dream more intriguing. What We Could Be is the perfect title for this album, because the possibilities are endless and the results, regardless, enjoyable. On the base of it, this is an album to play again and again and again. Its lyrics urge the listener to sing along and its melodies lead your feet to move. Now, it’s just a matter of time before “What We Could Be” will become “Who We Are.”

Album Rating: Own It on CD or Vinyl

Listener Co-efficient: Passive Listen

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