parts of my bicycle are made of chrome – taggart is your paradigmatic drums-bass-guitar punky foursome who ping-pongs between grand anthemic gestures, smart, butt-smacking pop songs, and outright emo-ish misery. i normally don’t go in for this kind of thing — i really had my fill of this about 8 years ago — but taggart, though indefatigably earnest (sample lyric, from “bufferless”: “i can’t fashion these clumsy bits of passion into words / love is cruel, like a child”), attack their sturdy, well-constructed songs with energy and verve and make it virtually impossible for a sourpuss like me to count ’em out. and there’s a lot to like: the anglophilic new wave ditties “chelsea” and “california,” the joyous full-blast jangle-rock of “finders,” the slow build and open-throated crescendos of “deferent” and “weekend politics,” the rocket-sled rides of “little builder” and the album’s opener, “lifeboat.” some nice piano and organ touches distinguish these guys from most everybody else who’s mined this territory; taggart’s a real band, and the whole cd is just swell. the stumbling last song “final chapter,” a replacements-style countryesque number (“well I’m four drinks deep and i’m thinkin’ of growin’ up / and i’d finally have somethin’ to say”), only adds to their considerable charm. (ma) (space city rock)
parts of my bicycle are made of chrome – when taggart’s parts of my bicycle are made of chrome (to be henceforth referred to as “parts“) arrived via rock beat international’s secret underground rock railroad, something about the band’s name seemed familiar. after batting down the cobwebs, i recalled they participated in a generally awful replacements tribute album a year or so ago (and reviewed by yours truly). although not groundbreaking or essential in any way, their cover of “don’t ask why” was enthusiastically bashed out. in other words, they didn’t embarrass themselves. nor do they on this, their debut.
the accompanying dossier states taggart will “rock in the vein of the pixies and superchunk” while proffering lyrics and melody like “the kinks and replacements.” to this writer’s ears, they got it 25% right. the band’s overall sound is quite reminiscent of superchunk, particularly in the massive two guitar wall of sound and nasally singing of…apparently everyone. no one in taggart appears to have a last name (taggart???). but rest assured, steve plays bass, pete mans a guitar as does becker. ward plays drums. they all offer up “vocals” as well. and the vocals suit the band’s sound just fine (but perhaps could be brought up further in the mix). in fact at times the vocals suggest the moberlys. the first couple of listens reminded me of any of a legion of bands that scrapped for attention in the wake of the replacements final days. that list would include (early) goo goo dolls, the junk monkeys and even a truly lame band fronted by yours truly. taggart serves up a good two-fisted bash and thank you sirs for that.
then again, after a few more listens down the line you start to hear where they want to be. “bufferless” has a moody crunchy sound and melancholy backing vocals that really would have sounded great on a replacements record. “empty introduction” has quivery electric piano and an angular guitar riff that recalls tom verlaine. the guitar solo on “rotten life” shows they know rock&roll and art school punk. so yeah, they’ve got aspirations. meanwhile though, the superchunk riffage dominates. you gotta love a band with a backbone and any band would love to have their first outing be as solid as parts. watch out though, they’ve got something up their sleeve and it’s probably gonna hit around record #3.
parts of my bicycle are made of chrome – should musicians stick to one defined genre on the same album? especially when debuting, a band must succumb to a labeling of style and sound if its members want to sell records. that’s not to say that you can’t open a song on the upbeat and carry over into the bridge with a slower, softer mood, like in the first half of taggart’s debut album. that transition actually works for the philadelphia-based indie-punk band, which sounds like a cross between weezer and the lemonheads.
in tracks 1-7, taggart’s musicianship really shines. the tunes are catchy—with a mixture of brighter buzzing guitars and more mellow acoustic guitars drifting in and out. the singer sometimes mumbles or screeches, but is complemented nicely at other times with a chorus of ah’s sung by other band members. and they often sing about love, like in my favorite of the tunes, bufferless.
but, it’s in the second half of the album (tracks 8-13), in which the band metamorphoses into a heavier hardcore punk sound, not nearly as succinct and tasteful as the first half. the first set of songs would make a great accompaniment for a road trip, and would rate higher if it was part of its own separate cd.
parts of my bicycle are made of chrome – taggart’s press release likens their sound to bands like the pixies, the kinks, and the replacements, which may be overdoing it just a tad — a mount rushmore-sized tad. missing is the unfettered originality of black francis, the clever cheekiness of ray davies, and the mats’ unerring sense of what makes rock and roll rock. what can be detected, at least from a vocal standpoint, is the legacy of kurt cobain’s raspy, affected country twang. such songs as “heavy pedal” and “deferent” rock with heaven-storming rage, yet next to “territorial pissings” and “planet of sound”, they seem tame. even when taggart tries to mix angst and melody (“weekend politics”), the result is disappointing. despite the self-aggrandizing (a necessary evil of every band in the star chamber of musical opinion-mongering), parts of my bicycle… is not without its charms. the straight pop approach in which taggart periodically indulges also happens to bring their most engaging moments. the country styling of “chelsea”, the classic rock chorus of “finders” and the longing of “california” often hit the right nerve; the band shines accordingly.
the main problem with parts is that it sounds rushed. for example, “empty introduction” has a lilting, bouncy beginning that really captures the listener and keeps him guessing, but the song falls victim to a less than satisfactory back nine. the band’s stiffness becomes increasingly apparent when the “the final chapter”, a loosely-played, all-too-short pop tune, ends the album on a positive note but makes you wonder “what if?” perhaps it’s time for taggart to turn down the distortion and the clanging cymbals and start listening to each other. (splendid)
parts of my bicycle are made of chrome – indie punk. that’s what my girlfriend said, as she heard this one start playing, and that description pretty much holds true. it’s rough around the edges, and the guitar kicks around like some young stage-dive friendly kid, while the vocals move somewhere between jimmy eat world and early soul asylum. i like that, usually. there’re some hints of mellowness that make me think of a cross between the dead milkmen and red kross, and that’s ok, too. there’s some nice keyboard work that helps to mellow the songs out, but these kids are definitely about the rock, and that’s where they shine. don’t try to be cool, quit the sneer in the lyrics. forget about the dynamics and just go all out. rock on! (big takeover)
parts of my bicycle are made of chrome – this quartet has some quality songs, but the style seems to run the gamut, from straightforward emocore pop in the vein of jimmy eat world to an underlying punk attitude on many numbers. “lifeboat” as well as “chelsea” have some rancid overtones to them in their confrontational delivery of them. “empty introduction” is indicative of the cumbersome problems that rear their small but ugly head, a nice introduction which switches instantly into a nu metal configuration. when the band does find their mark, it’s a very positive result, with the rock of “bufferless” infectious in its tone and gentleness. inspired by some rock deities, the group tends to get much tighter musically and lyrically as the album progresses. “california” and “rotten life” give a shot in the sonic arm, while “everything pales” makes everything else within pale by comparison. the group delves into many areas, but a decent if not entirely remarkable recording is the end result. (all music guide)
parts of my bicycle are made of chrome – taggart’s swaggering debut is a melodic mixture of emo, garage, punk, and alternative that’s just one hit song away from a commercial breakthrough. poignant, rowdy, melancholy, and reckless, this philadelphia quartet weaves strong pop hooks into thick guitar-driven arrangements and peppers them with occasional keyboard motifs and vocal harmonies that skim the surface of the beach boys and beatles. though each member sings from the bottom of a shot glass, the band is able to morph into a myriad of contrasting styles with relative ease as evidenced by the americana twist of “chelsea” and “final chapter” and the artsy intro to “empty introduction”. the disc’s two overt love songs, “rotten life”, a diatribe aimed at a blue-haired goth girl, and ‘california”, a breezy eagles-like driven song, ooze with vitriolic charm. a fine record for jilted lovers and intellectual drinkers. (amplifier)