(c) 2010 New York Taxi
If New York Taxi goes on to be a hugely successful band, fans will probably look back at The Calm Before and say “Hey, their second album wasn’t bad. It’s kind of nice.” The punk/folk/acoustic duo isn’t there yet, but they’ve got a nice sound that suggests potential.
The Calm Before is only five tracks. The songwriting is solid, and the duo gets a lot of mileage out of only one guitar, two voices, and a little looping. There’s an occasional keyboard in there, too. The male-female alternating or layered vocals are nice, and there’s never an unpleasant measure. But there’s nothing memorable, nothing you have to play again, nothing that gets your heart beating.
It’s nice though. It’s a nice album.
Track 1, “And Now Our Feature Presentation” opens with a George W. Bush sound clip and rambles a bit before a not-very-insightful chorus of “We’ve been misled, we’ve been shut down… we’re going to stand up, we’re going to fight back…” Certainly not a unique or otherwise fresh perspective. Maybe that’s the problem with the album: a slight lack of maturity in the lyrics and overall sound.
(On a similar note, as a former US history teacher, I cringed when in Track 2 they referenced “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as being guaranteed in the Constitution – rather than the Declaration of Independence.)
Track 2, “Jennarita” opens nicely with a sharp guitar riff underneath a little piano ditty. Ryan’s raspy verse complements Shannon’s cute-punk-girl chorus well, and it’d be a much more memorable song if not for a weak, abortive attempt at a grand finale in the track’s closing seconds.
Track 3, “Apartment1111,” contains flashes of brilliance, especially in the chorus with Shannon joining Ryan in a soulful ode to their bankrupt state: “On my way back home…to California…screw California…”
The last two tracks are nice. Track 4, “Firefly” would be nice background music for the montage in a high school movie where the guy is alone at a bus stop and the girl is at a party, distracted and looking at the moon while she thinks about the guy at the bus stop. Then the guy doesn’t get on the bus, heads back to the party, and it starts to rain just as the girl comes running toward him on the street. Track 5, “Humble,” would start playing when they see each other. Then they start dancing in the rain and go back into the party hand in hand.
Which would be nice. It’s a nice album. And it’s short, which is nice. Three stars for being nice.