Photo by Jason Gonulsen
Ha Ha Tonka, 500 Miles to Memphis (acoustic)
MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St, Cincinnati, OH
10pm, Free, 21+
A week into recording their fifth album Heart-Shaped Mountain, Ha Ha Tonka was forced to start over. A massive hardware crash at the studio deleted everything. Following a wave of shock, the band regrouped and refocused, trying different approaches to song structures that they otherwise wouldn’t have, and made a resilient album of positivity and triumphant effervescence. After all, music has the power to overcome.
At its core, Heart-Shaped Mountain is an album about love and growth. At a time when divisiveness fills the headlines, Ha Ha Tonka is fighting the good fight and building narrative tributes to friends and loved ones, memories past, and prospects of the future. They five-part harmonize on intimate familiarities – the nascent stages of relationships, deep and lasting bonds, maturation, fear and loss. This is a call to pause and glance back, inhale inspiration, and forge ahead with renewed purpose.
On Heart-Shaped Mountain the quintet expands their creative palette. Once aptly summed as “indie-Americana, where Alabama meets Arcade Fire,” Ha Ha Tonka unveils balanced, sublime, pop radio-accessible heights and an emotionally broader, post-punk songwriting range, a la early Delta Spirit or a less enigmatic Jónsi. This isn’t a betrayal of their discography, though. Rather, Ha Ha Tonka treks to new vistas, crosses uncharted ridges, and unfurls their flag with the confidence and excitement that comes from exploration.