[24 January 2011]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Whether you noticed it or not, 2010 was a great year for the Chapel Hill, NC label, Odessa Records. Wesley Wolfe, Wild Wild Geese and Shit Horse all put out great pop records, and now there’s the equally solid Amusement Park from Transportation. These guys churn out a huge and guileless rock and roll sound that, really, can’t possibly have a home in our current musical climate. It’s not self-aware enough to fall in line with indie rock trends, and it’s not dull enough to find the modern rock circuit. Amusement Park, however, is just fine stuck in limbo between those two clustered-up poles. From the power of the vocals—which sound brilliantly like a version of Sting that can enunciate—to the thick but precise guitar attack, these guys are all unbridled energy. The hooks come fast on knockout rockers like the title track and “Love on the Ground”, and they slow it down to gentler, mid-tempo rock on “Pool Parties” and “I Will Be What I Was” without losing their edge. This is music deeply felt by the players, and that emotive quality churns out of the speakers. By the time you get through these ten tracks and settle on the lean power of closer “Let It Out”, you know there’s something different about this rock record. You may not be able to put your finger on it exactly, but whatever that thing is, it sets Amusement Park apart from most any other record in 2010.