I literally met one of the members of this band in a bar down the street from my house. We were out celebrating my new job (have I mentioned I'm sorry for not writing enough lately?), and this guy and girl walked in and sat next to us. I overheard some chatter about a show they'd just come from, and when my friend went to the bathroom, and got bold (and was a few drinks in) and asked what brought them out for the night?
The answer I got was that they'd just come from a show - their own actually! We chatted a bit, mostly involving me hearing about this band, Black Taxi, who had apparently been a part of the biggest crowd the Bowrey Ballroom had ever seen. I told them about my blog, and how i would love to throw them in here somehow. And now folk, we are here!
This band is the reason I realized I need business cards. We didn't exchange information, but I managed to get the band's name e-mailed to myself, and easily found their site - yay! Since I'm hoping to contact them with this review and I'm a licensing freak, I won't swipe photos from it, but you could just go to the site of this NYC "prominent live [act]" at www.blacktaxi.com. They make it sound like quite the show - including "spitfire guitar licks, body paint, and all manner of instrumentation," so hopefully I can check them out next time they make their way back into the city. For now, let's check out their album.
"Tightrope" kicks things off. Automatically, you can get your foot taping, as this pop-rock riff of the guitar carries the song right into a party-mode. Now, here's what's interesting to me - the beat the drum comes in with is stop-and-go and slightly unpredictable. That's new. Focusing in on the lyrics, especially because this is a new band to my ears and you know that's an important deciding factor on like-ability, they're pretty well crafted. I haven't heard enough in this area to make a total judgement call, but it's not a bad start. Let's see what's to come.
In a bit of a disturbing thought, "We Don't Know Any Better" starts with the line "we got no insurance so we tie our own sutures." Ouch. This one's sort of interesting, reminiscent of some old house parties I've been to with live bands. There's electronic elements and obvious effects throughout. It's sort of a cry out for audience participation, get gets a little bland as it continues on. Meh.
"Hand" is much pop-ier and sort of Muse-esq. The melodies are really interesting. There's three separate ones - the chorus, the verses, and the bridges, none of which really seem to be alike, but build together for a decent song. The construction of the lyrics is actually sort of fascinating too, with a back and forth between me and you. There's just different words input between the two, not much more. Really, it boils down to something simple. The video close-ups/1st person POV in this are a little hard to handle, but we get to know the band and the story super well:
"Friend" comes on with a good beat in both the drums and the guitar. I could do without these effects on the voice, but whatever, it's tolerable. Then it gets to the chorus... and we're sort of going Bowie here a bit? I'm amused in an odd sort of way. The styles throughout this album so far have been a little dis-jointed if your listening closely, but they meld kind of well.
Things slow down just slightly, and the tone takes a bit of a darker tone for "Vultures." The chorus takes that lighter sound on the air of reflection. There's some weird twisted-ness to this song, which I think is what makes up part of the charm of it. I don't know what it is that's so damn appealing and interesting about this song, but there's something and it's just sort of cool enough to get immersed in. The sound is off, but that might be what draws you in just enough. Here's a performance of the song from nearby me at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2!
"Balloons On Barbed Wire" sounds like a sad situation for those balloons. Ahh, the jokes that I'm sure only amuse me. Again, the melodies are far different from most anything else I've heard, and the title is of course a metaphor. Basically, we live in caution, I think. It's probably one of the heavier songs on the album, with meaning and inspiration behind it. The most interesting part of this one is a trumpet that cries throughout the background like an old Mexican film, signifying the coming struggle. Yup, this is me looking too far in to things.
Slowing down once again, we get "Holding On To Nothing." It strikes me as a new-age western theme. The synth organ in here is so strange. I mean, I like odd music for the most part, but this feels completely disjointed and almost sort of creepy. I don't know man, some bands just need to keep the pace up because once they slow down, we just get scared.
"Politics" sounds almost like a satire, but I don't want to make that assumption. THe song's lighter in all ways, and includes a small chorus singing in doo-wop style backing vocals. Everything in this one sounds like it's being pumped through a computer with the dials turned in off directions. There's just a really un-natural feel to it (I'm not saying that's an all-around bad thing). It's there, so take it as you will, but for me it just sort of drifts by as I wait for the next one.
And that next one is "Tell Me What You Need." The vocals, for a pleasant change, don't sound overly-reverb-heavy, and the melody they have is sort of like a child's game. The song's not really heavy, and much easier to just sit and experience than some of the other ones.
"Hope I Never Know" is a nice little closer for the album. The band as a whole seems to be contributing their voices for a harmony that plays out really well. The odder sounds are still sort of there in between, but for the most part the song remains pretty simple. It's just got a good closer feel to it, rounding out the album to an interesting and appropriate end. Here's a quick acoustic take of the song my the band, recorded a few months ago down in Florida - incredibly impressive.
"Do What You Gotta Do"
So, when I met this guy in the bar and he told me about this band, I wasn't sure what to expect. I like music, period, so I didn't care what genre they would wind up being in - I would listen to them regardless. This wound up being a very quintessential New York listen, definitely fitting of the Brooklyn hipster lifestyle that is so dominant here. There's an appeal for the masses, of course, because that's what they're consuming now. These guys already have a good following and are clearly getting to do something they love. It's a pleasure to know officially be in the know about the band!