New Amsterdams Story like a Scar

It seems unfair to write off this Matthew Pryor-led group as "just not the Get Up Kids” but sadly, that’s kind of where they fall. Pryor writes middle-of-the-road alt-country songs that just don’t have the soul his work with one-time emo superheroes TGUK used to, and while the result is far from unappealing, it’s also obviously not Pryor’s musical strong suit. Playing country music for kids who don’t own any country records, the rest of the band round out the songs with the obvious shakers and slide guitars, all of which are placed somewhat awkwardly high in the mix, as if to remind you just how un-emo this record is. It’s too bad, because some fairly clever wordplay and nice, simple acoustic guitar playing gets lost in the attempt to dress these songs up like something they’re not. It’s not as if this record lacks heart, but it’s the kind of thing that would be cool as a small, one-off project. As the band continue to grow, however, so do their obvious shortfalls, and Story like a Scar brings those out for all to see. (Vagrant)