American Tomahawk has been a well regarded name in the Colorado music scene for years despite being Los Angeles residents since 2011. Growing up in Ault, Colorado, frontman and mastermind Adam Halferty formed his musical identity in Northern Colorado as an active member in a surprising and sorted list of Colorado bands. Playing drums with groups like The Chain Gang of 1974 and 3!OH!3, as well as helping out with Night Beds, Halferty had a hand in some of the most notable Colorado acts.
So when he formed his own project, the local scene was paying attention. Through American Tomahawk, Halferty created two deeply rich albums. Contradictions, Generalities, and Future Criminals and So so Slowly (The History of a Perfect Spiral) breathed like indie rock records but at their heart was a south-western country sound waiting to break out.
Then in 2018 American Tomahawk released Mr Griever, a seven-track ode to the country sound that beat in the chest of their previous work. Still very much an indie rock album, the production is layered in a way that reaches for something deeper. Incredibly nuanced, Halferty uses arrangements that seem like standard fair in modern music, yet the way Halferty does it is mesmerising, emotional, and almost terrifying in the way that only honest self-reflection can be.
This honesty is what’s at the core of Mr Griever. Songs like “Dames” and “Restless Wrestler” put it all out on display bringing with it a real feeling of being slightly out of time and place. This album is achingly beautiful in its simplicity with a slight stench of toxic masculinity lingering over it, bringing a brutality to that honesty.
“Worshipping” is the gem of the album, tugging at the heart strings like a night trip through the desert with that special someone. Halferty doesn’t simply paint a picture with these songs, he weaves a tapestry that tells a story which feels like it could be passed down from generation to generation.
Mr Griever is a steller album from an artist still flying below the radar. While their previous work was noteworthy amongst Halferty’s peers in the Colorado music scene, Mr Griever is something special in a broader sense. It’s a slice of modern digital Americana, wearing the colors of tradition but bringing them into a new era.
Catch “Mr. Griever” live at Magic Rat in Old Town Fort Collins on Friday, July 26 at 8pm. Head to magicratlivemusic.com for more.