The New Amsterdams - Story Like A Scar
Record Label: Vagrant Records
Release Date: March 21, 2006
Side projects serve as a creative medium for musicians to express different emotions, influences, and styles without compromise to their main outfit. The New Amsterdams, allowed Matt Pryor, front man of the famed The Get-Up Kids, to return to his folk roots by crafting mostly acoustic songs with tinges of pop and bluegrass. The New Amsterdams released their debut Never You Mind (2000), followed by the moving Para Toda Vida (2002), then the fan favorite Worse For The Wear (2003). On March 8, 2005, The Get-Up Kids announced their break-up, and on July 2, 2005, ended their ten year legacy. Each member’s side project came to the forefront of their focus, the fans’ focus, and subsequently, the critics’ focus. This may lead to disappointing results, for the founder feels they have to prove the side project is something more than that. Due to releasing issues with label Vagrant Records, 2005’s Killed Or Cured was scrapped and released as a free online download. The next year, it was time for The New Amsterdams and Matt Pryor to take control of their musical destinies, but Story Like A Scar is a feeble grasp in comparison to the previous albums and on its own. The album begins strong with “The Death of Us,” a mid-paced song showcasing the fuller instrumental configuration of the band. It moves to the single and undoubtedly best song on Story Like A Scar, “Turn Out The Lights.” Pryor’s finger-picking is accompanied by sustained reverberation by the electric guitar of Dustin Kinsey and folky rhythms by upright bassist Eric McCann and drummer Bill Belzer. The album then reaches a true energetic peak on “Bad Liar,” as Pryor proclaims “I guess this is good-bye/So have a nice life/I’ll see you at the replay lounge.” These three songs, as a short EP or single, would have been magnificent, but much to the listener’s dismay, the album continues to the sub-par “Past The Pines,” to the failed attempt at a cohesive ballad on “Your Ghost,” to the weakest track, the completely out of place punk “Intelligent Design.” The album gains a bit more respectability with the faster acoustic songs, “Calendar Days” and “Beautiful Mistake.” It concludes with the mediocre “A Small Crusade” and the awkward “Turn Out The Lights (Reprise).” With only a few bright spots on the album, The New Amsterdams strike out with Story Like A Scar.