Album Review: American Babies, ‘Knives and Teeth’

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Everywhere you look it seems that bands are trying to capture some sort of “old time” feeling in their music as if they’re trying to channel the bearded, corduroy vibe of late ’50s, early ’60s folk into their modern sound. For the most part this “vibe” is unnatural, it’s forced, all for the sake of winning some sort of musical popularity contest.

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So, when you hear a band that’s able to channel the past into their modern sound and do it in a natural, honest and impactful way, it means something.

American Babies, fronted by former Brothers Past member Tom Hamilton, is a band that is able to properly channel that vibe of the days of yore — whether it be folk, outlaw country or straight-up rock ‘n roll. Yet, don’t call them a throwback band. American Babies is still firmly rooted in the now. Their sound still resonates within a “modern” rock soundscape. These aren’t a bunch of dudes with long beard sitting around a stump blowing on a jug and twanging on a banjo — this is a full-fledged rock ‘n’ roll band that just happens to wears its influences on its sleeve. Simply put, this is a modern band with an old soul.

The key part of American Babies’ success, particularly on their new release Knives and Teeth, are the vocals of its founder and frontman Tom Hamilton. Hamilton owns a glorious set of melodic and soulful pipes. It has an ease to it, not laid-back but more like a cool confidence that exudes through each track. His vocals are the driving force of each track and he confident lets his vocal chords steer the boat of each song.

The killer track of the record is, ironically, a song titled “Old Fashioned.” This cut contains those same confident and cool vocals along with a terrific combination of Hammond organ and clean, crisp guitar work. It plays like an early Allman Brothers-esque tune that’s got a drive and groove to it, but is also still pretty chilled out. This isn’t some big, loud classic rock jam session, this is a controlled, orchestrated and fluid track that is so just damn good.

American Babies’ Knives and Teeth is a solid record that will appeal to those who are obsessed with the current folk influence in indie and mainstream rock, those who dig that old classic rock sound and those who enjoy a sense of jam in their music.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites