l’maskin – i swear this philly band could have existed among the top tier of the 80s american indie underground. the good news is it exists right now. the bad news? there’s no bad news. this rocks. (unherdmusic.blogspot.com)
l’maskin – the “alt” tag usually makes me suspicious but this veteran philly band has earned it. taggart‘s spent two decades making the sort of jangly, catchy, thrift-store t-shirt rock that would’ve fit nicely on a college radio playlist circa 1990. “i paid my dues in mostly empty rooms,” sings pete denton on the backward-glancing “infinite space.” “sing my tunes however i choose / do you dig my blues?” he and his brother steve share lead vocal duties, and everybody else sings backup. taggart — who boast a gigantic playlist for their live-band karaoke nights — have serious chops they show them off with agility and good humor on the new l’maskin. (phillymag.com)
snow day (take it easy) – what more could anyone ask of the big, fat jolly dude than some new xmas-themed vinyl? well, these two bands have just answered your wish list. taggart hits you up with three covers and one original for their side. “wishmas” is cool and will make it into a wintry playlist mix with ease. but it’s on their cover of the kinks “father christmas” where they really nail it. ray davies would be proud and I doubt bad religion’s recent take kicks as much ass. the successful failures come at from another angle: three originals and one cover. although their ramones cover is heartfelt, i think i’m feeling “christmas morning (yellow canary)” a bit more. either way this is best enjoyed loud, then go back and search out other releases by both bands as well. (razorcake)
snow day (take it easy) – now here is a unique release. there are many holiday records released each year and there are a wide variety of split releases that have come out over the years featuring one band on side a and another on side b. i do not know, however, of another split holiday release, at least on a 12”.
ultimately, though, i am reviewing this (a bit later than I hoped to) a little less than a week after christmas (it came out on december 10th) not because of the record’s novelty, but because it is a great record featuring two great bands.
taggart occupy side a and are a long-running philadelphia/new jersey band whose sound could be described as a throwback to a time when indie rock meant a specific style of music ala bands such as superchunk and archers of loaf, not the catch-all phrase it encompasses these days; except, of course, that they were around during that era, having recorded as early as 1997. more over, their songs have hooks, are memorable, and they rock with no pretension whatsoever. though there is only one original on their side (the future christmas classic “wishmas”), this is also reflected in their choice of cover material, at least for the most part. though their side is bookended by snippets of foghat‘s “slow ride” with lyrics re-written as “snow day” (hence the title of this record), things get much more interesting as they tackle the descendents classic “christmas vacation” and the kinks‘ also fantastic “father christmas.”
the successful failures, the band of fdr label head mick chorba, occupy side b and their brand of new jersey power pop (think of bands ranging from the smithereens to labelmates bastards of melody) is a perfect match for taggart. if one listens to this album in mp3 form or on cd where side 2 just follows side 1, it flows really well. anyhow, there is only one cover (a great version of the ramones‘ “merry christmas (i don’t want to fight tonight)” on their side and 3 equally enjoyable originals. though “good night to the last night” (appropriate as i am writing this on december 31st) is really a new years’ eve song, the two other originals deal with holiday merriment, gift giving and wishing and what not. of these, i really like “christmas morning (yellow canary)” but there is not a dud in the bunch.
something else that should be mentioned here is that the artwork is absolutely mesmerizing. in an age where less and less emphasis is placed on the visual aspect of records, it is a treat to see matt hanemann‘s artwork, especially on the 12”.
in summary, i have a feeling i’ll be listening to this one year-round as this is not just a holiday novelty record. (the big takeover)
snow day (take it easy) – coming in just under the wire for the holiday season, the successful failures and taggart put together an exciting collection of classic covers and new holiday songs for this split holiday release. fans will appreciate hearing new and different versions of the kinks (“father christmas”), the descendents (“christmas vacation”), and the ramones (“merry christmas (i don’t want to fight tonight”) classic christmas songs as well as 4 new songs written by taggart and the successful failures especially for this release. taggart even re-writes foghat’s “slow ride”, appearing here as “snow day” – not hard to imagine! very cool and lots of fun! excellent!! (kool kat music)
for what it’s worse – (reviewed with “pop the lock” by the magnolias) – it wouldn’t be going out on a limb to say that the magnolias and taggart are your proverbial “brothers from another mother” or perhaps it would be more spot on to suggest they were conceived from the same father – the proud papa being paul westerberg. both offspring are symptomatic of what a few dozen spins of pleased to meet me can have on the brain but while the replacements clout is baked into the cake it doesn’t leave a redundant aftertaste. the magnolias, who coincidentally share the same home turf as the mats, have resurfaced with their first new album since last century. the mags’ spunky power-pop and john freeman’s singular vocal panache are amazingly intact. with a plethora of searing guitar solos and no shortage of blue collar motifs, pop the lock can stand shoulder to shoulder with anything they churned out in their initial mid-’80s run and beyond.
at their best taggart rock out with the dexterous, charismatic aptitude of grand champeen and the figgs and deliver a varied album as well. my big complaint is that things flatline drastically during the later half illustrating that for would be a stronger contender if it was whittled down from 14 songs to about 10. we desperately need more keepers like “good intentions” and fewer in the mold of the sleepy “greater depression”. (the big takeover)