AM Taxi pour their heart into a special mixtape which is well worth the wait.
AM Taxi has kept their fans waiting a while for a new full-length album. It’s been almost six years since they released the fantastic We Don’t Stand A Chance, although there have been two EPs since then to keep us going.
To be fair, it’s not surprising that its taken some time for a new AM Taxi release to arrive given that the members of the band, particularly Adam Krier, have been extremely active with other projects. Krier has collaborated with Ike Reilly, played shows, begun writing again with Lucky Boys Confusion (along with Jason Schultejann), and also popped up playing guitar and keyboards with Urge Overkill.
Having so many musical irons in the fire seems to be a good thing for Krier as it feels like these different experiences and influences shine through in AM Taxi’s new material.
Semi-Confessional takes you back to the time when you’d spend hours making a mixtape of your favorite tunes for friends or that special girl/boy in your life. There are some rules for putting together a good mixtape which we won’t go into here (for more information, check out Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity). However, the most important rule is that a mixtape should take you on a journey, and that’s exactly what Semi-Confessional does, musically and in reality (almost). The songs play out over a journey to Union Station which is punctuated by messages from the conductor (Ike Reilly) who provides brief commentary between each track to let the listener know exactly where they are.
Semi-Confessional contains a mixtape version of “Reckless In The Moonlight,” a dub remix of “Stone Cold Virgo” along with acoustic versions of “Shake Rattle and Stall” and “It’s Only DuPage Wasteland” that were recorded live in the studio. There are also seven new tracks.
It has always been difficult to slot AM Taxi into one particular genre. When interviewed in the past, Krier and Schultejann have described the band as a rock n’ roll band with punk and indie roots. Whilst the new album sees them moving in some new directions, it still feels like they are a rock band at heart.
But putting genres aside, Semi-Confessional retains the one thing that has made AM Taxi consistently stand out from the crowd; their unerring ability to write songs with lyrics and vocal lines that stir strong feelings and evoke pictures in your mind. This is a rare talent and one which means their music should endure for many years to come.
The album opens strongly with the aforementioned “Reckless In The Moonlight” featuring Genevieve (Company of Thieves) who’s crystal clear voice fits perfectly alongside Krier’s raspy vocals.
The new tracks include “Enough To Feel Like Enough”, “Bored and Raised” and “Out On The Fire Escape”, all of which see the band at their energetic, rocking best. “Bored and Raised” and “Out On The Fire Escape” in particular see Smith’s drums and Schultejann’s bass prominent in the mix driving the tracks along.
It also has to be said that Marino’s guitar work on these tracks and throughout the album fits perfectly with the material. It’s a “less is more” approach. His guitar line will simply follow and compliment the vocals as opposed to the guitar taking center stage.
“Let’s Continue To Dig” opens with a snippet of an interview alluding to the fact that it’s been a while since “Bastard Of The Deep Blue Sea” was released. The track itself starts with an upbeat waltzy feel and steadily builds in intensity with the band at full speed by the end.
“Epilogues” is a demo of an acoustic track recorded in an apartment with just vocals and an acoustic guitar. It’s one of the most powerful tracks on the album from an emotional standpoint and proves conclusively that a great song will stand on its own two feet without needing thousands of dollars worth of studio production.
Meanwhile, “Can’t Talk My Way Into You” features the late Lucky Boys Confusion guitarist Joe Sell playing a fantastic electric guitar part that almost sounds like its a pedal steel when it first comes in. It’s a great track that is made that bit more poignant due to the fact that it features Sell.
The dub remix of “Stone Cold Virgo,” featuring Michael ‘Miguel’ Happoldt (Sublime) on vocals and acoustic guitar, is bound to get audiences bouncing. The acoustic versions of “Shake Rattle and Stall” and “It’s only DuPage Wasteland” puts a new spin on these classic tracks. There’s also an acoustic cover hidden at the end of the mixtape which is a real treat, but we won’t spoil the surprise here.
Semi-Confessional (Mixtape) is a great concept which has been executed perfectly by a band who consistently write great songs. In a world where we all tend to buy our music in bite-sized chunks, put some time aside and let Ike Reilly lead you on a train ride through AM Taxi’s world. It will be a trip you will want to take over and over again.
The release show for Semi-Confessional is Friday, May 13, at the Double Door on 1551 N Damen in Chicago.