The Amends - What We Could Be

Boulder/Denver-based local rock darlings The Amends are back again. When I first heard them in July of 2011, I was throttled with the potent, catchy nature of their indie-punk-pop-power aesthetic. They released their first full-length album soon thereafter, and once more, I was floored. So no wonder I was so happy to hear that they'd be releasing their second album on January 8th. That album is called What We Could Be. Many bands, on album 2, experience something called a sophomore slump. Usually it is attributed to having less than a lifetime to write a new set of songs, and putting all of one's band eggs into the basket that was most popular from album 1. Luckily, The Amends don't have to worry about that because it's just about impossible to hit a moving target. While the quality, power pop strains of great, memory-grabbing rock music remain, What We Could Be, hits harder into realms of psychedelia, blues rock, Southern rock and garage grunge.

A track like "Big City Way" for instance feels like a Black Keys, The Band, Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin massive blow out. The Amends revels in pushing the volume to eleven and grinding out long, beautiful, artistic bridges and instrumentals. Don't get comfy there because the very next track, "More to Give" feels like classic Joe Jackson, though without the glossy production of the '80s. Also, it breaks open like a volcano at the end. Yet, "Make It So" is a bouncy, bass-driven bit of post-Strokes garage rock, with some excellent insights on the distractions of youth and the wastefulness of listlessness. Then "Time Goes On" happens. It's a gorgeous high school dance of a track, sad, plodding and dressed in a careful riff that is both wallowing and ceaselessly hopeful. "Tick Tock" changes the pace again, alternating almost spoken-word verses with fantastic slinky lead guitar work.

So, here's the thing, What We Could Be, is a love letter, a wish, a dirge, a celebration and an apology. But that's just the lyrics. Musically, this is close to the rock heyday stuff of the late '60s and '70s, with style to spare. The Amends dabble in a lot of sub-genres here, and rather than creating a series of pleasant homages, they apply a unique spin that makes each style their own. "It'd Be Nice" appears at surface to be a basic chugging blues-rock track, but incredible vocal style, witty, caustic lyrics and the vibe that this band is really enjoying themselves sets it far apart. If you don't check out this second album, you're a goddamn fool. There I said it. And I won't take it back. You can stream it free at The Amends's bandcamp site starting on January 8. You can also download it for $5, or order up the physical album.

Support local music. These Colorado boys are making good.
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