New Amsterdams At the Foot of My Rival

Matt Pryor is still an intriguing character. The front-man for Lawrence, Kansas’ the New Amsterdams, and former the Get Up Kids member, sure knows how to write some thought provoking tunes. The New Amsterdams have been wavering between country and rock for their past four releases and on Rival they find themselves more on the experimental rock side of the fence. For this release they left long-time home Vagrant and released Rival on their own label, yet no signs of changing their life-long formula of writing guitar-driven rock are evident. "The Fountain of Youth” is cute, has some poppy "ooh ohhs” and a hand-clapping, harmonica-enhanced messiness to it. A romantic ballad of sorts, "Silverlake” is heavy on the bass and emotions. "Lost Long Shot” is Bruce Springsteen-inspired, while songs like "Hughes” remind you that Pryor was indeed a Get Up Kid, due to the raw production and straightforward honesty we all miss from his former entity. Rival is a spotty record that never disappoints but only occasionally impresses. (Curb Appeal)