American Catastrophe
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American Catastrophe

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | INDIE

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Americana


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Fits like a Glove"

Friday, June 15, 2007
The following track comes from Kansas City band American Catastrophe's upcoming release, Excerpts From the Broken Bone Choir, and it's fairly representative of what the record is all about. Dark, haunting, and sparse, the song rumbles along beneath lyrics concerned with deeds equally shadowy. It's difficult not to make comparisons to other great American gothic artists such as Nick Cave, 16 Horsepower, and Michael Gira when listening to this Kansas City, MO outfit. It's nice to know that there's such cinematic, emotive soundscapes being created out in our heartlands. And while I'm not normally one to go on too long about packaging, this CDs digi-pak fits it like a glove. The cover, all black, with an image of a crow holding an axe in silver is perfect. On the back, the darn thing is sealed in red wax with an AmCat seal (where can I get one of those?). The final touch? A black feather inside the package. Ok, maybe that last bit with the feather is a little muchp, but you have to admit it fits in well with the overall aesthetic.

American Catastrophe - The Well

- Collective Music

"High-end Gothic Americana"

Close the curtains, remove colour from your wardrobe and kneel down before your Nick Cave poster because here comes a prime slice of Gothic Americana. I jest, but whilst half of the six songs here are held in check by the straightjacket of sub-genre convention, the other half make a convincing case for them to wrest the crown of thorns from 16Horsepower.

‘The Farm’ is darker then the Walkabouts get; fog, black and white, under a bridge over the Seine, a barge slips past, a silent hulk in the dark, a violin calling out across the frigid city, cymbal splashing like shoes in a puddle, the deep vocal and the throb of the throng moving as one through the darkened streets. Lonesome harmonica wearing a long leather coat ushers in ‘Hang ‘Em High’ reminding me somewhat oddly of David McComb; it must be the deep resonant vocal, that and the fetish for the darker side - this one moves funereally and with a gallows, a hungry acapella chorus and a chainsaw of guitar it manages to work up some real menace.

Best of all is ‘Tension’ starting with some almost post-rock (think For Carnation) noodling it builds a Cure like atmosphere; the tension isn’t overdone, and it could almost be Mogwai or Godspeed: so beautifully does it build that you hardly dare pre-empt the climax. It shows that this is a band with something in their locker that could turn out to be really interesting.

Date review added: Thursday, May 31, 2007
Reviewer: David Cowling

American Catastrophe “Excerpts from the Broken Bone Choir” (Oxblood 2007)
- Americana UK

"Shades of gray and blood red"

AMERICAN CATASTROPHE “Excerpts From The Broken Bone Choir” reviewed by Pitchfork

Search this band’s name on Google and you’ll find references to just the kind of cataclysms the songs evoke. These six tracks, remastered and reissued by OxBlood in the band’s native Kansas City, Mo., create a fuller picture of a band than many longer albums; at 33 minutes this is an EP bursting at the seams with hefty pieces that boast, indulge, and haunt. At surface level the references are clear: leader Shaun Hamontree is a Tom Waits fanatic, and everywhere are up-to-the-minute contemporary draws– a Tarantino scene change, a Neko Case bridge, a Low vocal– that serve as modern touches to gothic artifacts.

This can lead us to several neighboring places. For one, the vertiginous funereal comedown of “The Farm”, which manages to be both the warmest and most alienating of the tracks. At nearly eight minutes it alternately drones on and picks us up, like an unpredictable wind, the mournful vocals switching dominance with a more energetic percussion section, both of which Hamontree conducts with his central and overpowering role at the microphone. So early in the album this song could prophesy a leaden second half, but as it turns out, the band prefer to intersperse tempo ranges, alternating slow, heavily reverbed guitar tracks with the faster, stormier pieces dominated by drums.

The musical cues evoked when the four members come together are far more interesting: It’s a tumultuous yet controlled breed of rock that appears to communicate deeper than some of the rangy dustbowl guitar solos and explosively sad choruses elsewhere. “Wither” is the best example of this, though melodically it’s more familiar, with twinkling, ominous arpeggios skittering around thick resolutions in bass and guitar at the chorus. The references in “Wither” are as much to sophisticated metal as to country and blues.

The bow-out, “Tension”, has a scintillating beauty that will remind listeners of Explosions in the Sky, whose fascination with simple repetitive guitar lines performed in peaceably empty outer space is transformed here, branded with American Catastrophe’s smoke-filled noise-making. A delicate few notes on the electric guitar build up through their own monotony, leading to the inevitable crash and burn of cymbals and bass in the final seconds. As a teaser to what this band is currently working on (these songs were first recorded in 2005), Excerpts is confusingly colorful, painted in various shades of gray and blood red.

- Pitchfork

"making an exception..."

American Catastrophe Excerpts From the Broken Bone Choir Oxblood

While we don’t usually cover gothic Americana we’re making an exception for American Catastrophe. Part Sol Invictus, part 16 Horsepower, this Kansas City quartet has mastered dark-folk songwriting–plus the album comes sealed with red wax and a black feather. Spooky.

"Editor's Pick"

Trolling the deep waters of bayou gritty gothic folk stirring in elements of experimental free-jazz and psychedelic punk, this is a ballet of melodies and off-kilter atmospheres. Vocally it’s just barely removed from Nick Cave’s closet. “Excerpts from the Broken Bone Choir” is an eerie listen and one that will haunt you. It’s rustic edges will claw in the Americana and alt-country fans of late—which is not something one might have thought would have come from a former member of the band Sister Mary Rotten Crotch.

- J-Sin

"Am Cat live"

First it needs to be said - Shaun Hamontree is one beautiful man. All of the intimidating 6'5 of him. With a voice that sounds like a cross between Jay Munly and Tom Waits, he writhes and jukes in his chair while pushing out some of the greatest music that has one foot in rock, one in blues, a hand in folk and a pinky finger in post-rock. As good as their album is, its no comparison to seeing them live. Their set seemed perfect in the dim, somehow smoky without allowing smoke venue. The new tunes fit in perfectly amongst the ones from their recently re-released "Excerpts from the Broken Bone Choir". The themes of murder juxtaposing with and odd romanticism are continuing on (as well as I could tell from the lyrics). All in all, I can't wait to see what new stuff AmCat will be pushing forward on Oxblood.

- don't need anything music blog

"Paste Magazine - The Report"

A musical case study in "less is more"

Who knew there was such dark and interesting music coming straight outta Kansas City? American Catastrophe makes a very specific type of ominous music that will bend the ears of Nick Cave and Tom Waits fans. Put simply, these folks cite David Lynch as an influence, and their tunes are unsettling and wonderful in much the same way as Mulholland Drive.

- Austin L. Ray
August 7, 2007 - Austin L. Ray

"Broken Bone"

I guess I should have known by the wax seal on the cover and the black "raven's" feather inside the packet - and possibly the likeness of the crow with the hatchet on the cover - that American Catastrophe was playing the gothic game. And while the band obviously draws from the darker side of things, they're very talented and create music that is easy to listen to, whether you lean towards the goth or not. The six songs on Excerpts From The Broken Bone Choir have a very Swans-ish flavor, both vocally and musically, but rather than the decidedly evil post punk flavor of M. Gira's music, American Catastrophe approaches their songs with a dark Americana tint. At certain times songs remind the ear of a slower Nick Cave ("The Well") or a less whiskey-haunted Tom Waits. Tracks like "Hang 'Em High" take a border sound and draw it out into a slower dirge, capturing the essence of glorious goth-rock bands like Fields Of The Nephilim, minus the blistering guitar lines and speeding drums. "Wither" begins with Bauhaus-ian chimes and lower vocals before building into a lightly orchestrated Human Drama-esque track.

So, if you like the darker music with an Americana twist, check out American Catastrophe. If you like what you hear here, then check out Angels Of Light, Nick Cave, Human Drama, etc, etc. for more of this glorious gothic-tinged folk music. It's all the good of meaningful music with a haunted cast… perfect for those sleepy fall days.

-L. Keane

- Hybrid Magazine

"Mining the doom"

American Catastrophe Excerpts from the Broken Bone Choir (Oxblood)
Featuring members of Kansas City-area bands like the Black Water (which I reviewed almost a decade ago), this quartet mines the doomy side of the American landscape. Not quirky, like Trailer Bride, but more just plain fearful, like Molasses. These songs go where you don't want them to go. Which is what makes them so cool. -

"Daily download"

American Catastrophe featured as a daily download on such popular music blogs as, and death of a cassette. -,


Debut EP: Excerpts from the Broken Bone Choir, OxBlood Records, 2007.
Compilation: "Iron Horse", First Blood, Oxblood Records, 2007.



Exploring the Americana, the rural grit, the murderer, and the romantic, American Catastrophe draws upon their diverse experiences in experimental jazz, old school punk, expansive guitar epics and operatically trained baritone vocals to fashion a powerful brand of American Gothic with an original take on the murder ballad tradition. 2008 has been marked with touring dates around the upper Midwest and western United States in support of their debut CD. American Catastrophe is recently back from the NXNE festival in Toronto, Canada where the band showcased at the Dakota Tavern to an enthusiastic international crowd.

American Catastrophe's debut Excerpts from the Broken Bone Choir is the inaugural release on the roster of Oxblood Records, a label co-owned by music industry veterans Robert Moore, formerly of I.R.S. Records and Music Director at KCUR-FM in Kansas City and Megan Hamilton, former drummer for indie success Frogpond.
Outside of American Catastrophe, Shaun Hamontree is co-founder and Creative Director of the MK12 design collective, where for 8 years has directed and animated music videos for the likes of Hot Hot Heat, Guided By Voices, The Faint, and Common, among others. His design expertise and artistic vision are also applied to the distinct look and imagery of American Catastrophe. Fans and the unfamiliar alike covet the band’s poster art, unique album packaging and merchandise. The beautifully haunting visuals, cavernous vocals and torrential orchestration of American Catastrophe have inspired a strong regional following. American Catastrophe is more than a band, it is an icon.

American Catastrophe resides in Kansas City, Missouri and is currently supporting their debut Excerpts from the Broken Bone Choir on Oxblood Records remastered by Doug Henderson (Swans, Akron Family).