AM Taxi’s We Don’t Stand a Chance
By Seth Moskowitz
My first listen to AM Taxi was while on a roadtrip ~ the perfect backdrop for an album like We Don’t Stand a Chance.
Lead by John Krier on guitar and vocals, Chris Smith on drums, Jason Schultejann on bass, Luke Schmitt on the keyboard and John Schmitt on guitar, AM Taxi pours a lot of contagious energy into their debut release on Virgin Records.
We Don’t Stand a Chance is comprised 11 melodic tracks that seem to be inspired by a spectrum of influences. The album kicks off on an upbeat with “Dead Street,” followed by “The Mistake;” both tracks are fast-paced and punk inspired, reminiscent of groups like Blink 182. “Woodpecker” and “Paper Covers Rock” also give a rather significant nod to punk bands of the late 90s and early 2000s.
And just when you think that We Don’t Stand a Chance is going to be all punk-ish, “Charissa” comes along and hearkens back to the classic rock of the 70s. Adding even more variety are the first chords of “Fed Up,” which bring to mind The Replacements, and “Maydays and Rosaries,” which deftly evokes visions of Sting playing bass on a classic Police track.
When listening to the creatively titled “Tanner Boyle vs the 7th Grade,” I envisioned being on a bar stool in Ireland, pint of Guinness in hand, listening to an Irish folk tale (Those of you who have been to Ireland will totally understand.). I honestly thought this band could have been of Irish decent once I heard this song. It’s a feel-good Irish pub song gone rock and roll.
We Don’t Stand a Chance lacks some production value and in some places sounds a bit more like it’s a garage band production instead of a polished, finished product. But from start to finish, it’s a fast paced, solid, entertaining summer rock album. More importantly, it sounds like it will translate very well to the live stage, which may indeed have been the ultimate production goal. I have yet to see AM Taxi live but my guess is that they rock pretty hard. Check them out this summer from June 25th – August 15 on The Warped Tour and make sure to pick up We Don’t Stand a Chance before your next roadtrip.
The Cringe’s Play Thing
By Tom Cadrin
John Cusimano of The Cringe
Let’s start with the CD cover, since that’s what would grab you first while you’re browsing new releases in Newbury Comics or FYE. The CD you spot has a bunch of toy monkeys inside a crate banging small cymbals and bongos. Just playin’ around. Next, you see the band name: “The Cringe.” And you think to yourself, “Huh, interesting choice, a name that kind of says, ‘Back away!’” But you also grin at the humor of the toy monkeys and the statement that image is making. And maybe it’s the combination of that odd name with the wacky artwork that initially helped them draw in an audience ~ something they’ve certainly been doing in spades. But it’s the fact that these four guys blaze forth with a sense of rock that hearkens back to the days when combining genres was fresh and exciting that means when you pop in that CD, you are going to be rocked to your core by some killer music.
Play Thing, The Cringe’s latest release, opens with the rolling track “Ride,” that immediately begins to unravel all preconceived browsing notions. Drummer Shawn Pelton, who has played with the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Sheryl Crow and is the longest serving member of the SNL band, packs a punch that pulls you through the album on hands and knees. The most important thing in any rock band is a solid foundation and with Pelton laying down the groove, your head is sure to be banging along. On top of that, it’s pure musical meld. Roto (guitar) and Matt Power (bass) shine as the marinated meat of the project allowing lead singer John Cusimano to smack you in the face with his unique take on what it is to be a radio friendly rock/punk/alternative band these days.
With a slew of shows centering mostly around the Big Apple this summer, there’s ample opportunity the catch The Cringe in action. Check their myspace (www.myspace.com/thecringe) and facebook for more information, and definitely pick up a copy of Play Thing.
Jack Babineau’s Generation of Need
By Jillian Locke
The greatest challenge in the life of any young, budding musician is always the same ~ carving out a niche and distinguishing his or her unique, individual talent. Although Jack Babineau, an 18 year old singer/song-writer/reincarnated blues belter FEELS that’s a challenge, one listen and you’ll be convinced otherwise.
“The most challenging part for me is trying to get away from my influences and really finding myself,” says Babineau, who just released his first effort through Satellite Studios, aptly titled Generation of Need. To really distinguish himself from comparisons to the likes of Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer, Babineau channels years of listening to The Beatles, Billy Joel, Johnny Cash, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, Ray Charles and other greats and puts his own spin on the classics. “I like to distinguish myself by incorporating so many styles that you can’t find one; I like to throw in some jazz, blues, and even hip hop.”
Having only been playing guitar for four and a half years, Babineau displays a talent and a passion beyond his years, and much of that natural insight and energy shines through in Generation of Need, a collection of eight tracks recorded over two years. “The title of the album is the underlying factor. The whole album is about society, everything going on in the world and how we should stop pointing fingers and just try to better ourselves,” Babineau explains. His point is driven home with smooth, blues-infused pop riffs supported by his strikingly deep, shockingly soulful vocals.
Babineau also had the help of some talented friends along the way. Rising R&B sensation Charise White contributed vocals on “Conformity,” “Love Now,” and “For Today,” while rock veteran James Montgomery, best known for his local blues and celebrity collabs with Kid Rock and Les Paul, to name a few.
Catch Jack Babineau with his newly formed band Blame Jack on tour this summer.
In the meantime, head over to www.cdbaby.com to get your copy of Generation of Need, and www.jackbabineau.com and www.myspace.com/jackbabineau to get a glimpse into this 18 year old, reincarnated bluesman.
King Hell’s Rhythm and Bruise
By Alex Kantarelis
Think about dropping Metallica, Black Sabbath, The Red Hot Chili Peppers (Freaky Styley era), and Parliament Funkadelic into a box and shaking it all up. King Hell would be the result. Their latest effort, Rhythm and Bruise, keeps with their unique blend of funk, metal, and an overall larger-than-life attitude.
Their first full-length rocks from the beginning, kicking off with the track “Brooklyn,” a funk-rock song that sums up the album in its 4 and a half minutes. It gets you bobbing your head right from the beginning. The riffs keep pouring through in tracks like “Bad Mofo,” “Retarded Forces of Doom,” “The Living Dead,” and “The Assmaster.” Yes, those are the titles of the songs. Completing the cycle is a cover of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf,” which blends in as if it were one of their own.
What sets these guys apart from anyone else? First of all, the dual vocals harmonize in a way that most metal bands only wish they could. Vocalists Doc Thompson and Samwell manage to hit all the highs and lows perfectly and their vocal style defines the band’s sound. They know how to keep things funky while still offering some massive Judas Priest/ Queen influence to complete the metal edge they have.
Also, their image is like no other. They take a form of music that has recently become stale and add a certain theatrical flair that seems to be missing from music; it’s like they’re putting on a show comparable to KISS, but with more of a comic book nerd theme. Nothing wrong with that.
Fans of metal will be pleased with the shredding guitar parts, but it’s the catchy hooks that set them apart from a normal metal band. By the time the 2nd chorus rolls around, I was already singing along.
Overall the album is a relentless attack of metal riffs, funky drum parts that will make you hold a beer over your head, sing along, and rock out at your favorite bar.