Shut Up... The Grownups Are Talking
I've never reviewed an album before on this here website! I wonder what it'll be like. Hmm... I wonder. Oh well.
So why did I decide to write an album review now, of all times? Well, because I figure the album I'm writing about is little enough known that if I write a review of it, it'll become more well-known. Since I plan on this being a positive review, maybe even some more people will add this album to their collections.
Which album, you ask? Are you an idiot? It says right at the top of the page there:
Shut Up... The Grownups Are Talking
What it doesn't say is by whom the album was created. That would be the band known as:
Locust Street Taxi
If you look closely at the drawing up there at the top of this page, you'll notice that the street sign says "Locust St." and the top of the taxi says "Taxi." That's just my clever way of getting the band name up there without being too freakin' obvious. Also, the taxi is being chased by a swarm of locusts for those of you who are illiterate.
Anyhoo, Shut Up... The Grownups Are Talking is purported to be Locust Street Taxi's second album, though I'll be darned if I can figure out what their first album is purported to have been. But that not withstanding, on with my review:
Locust Street Taxi is a very hard-to-define, eclectic band. Here's the lineup:
- Darick Baker Bass
- Franco Bertucci Guitar, Vocals
- Nathan Geyer Trombone, Vocals
- Mario Pesacreta Trumpet, Vocals
- Sam Stockard Drums
- Debi V Congas
Oops! You've caught me. The name Nathan Geyer might seem a little familiar, perhaps? Well, that's because for a while he was also known as The Orange Fool of Fools Play Improv, and brought his trombone and comedy skills to the stage on Saturday nights. Oddly enough, I haven't actually seen Locust Street Taxi perform yet, even though one of its members was in my improv troupe.
So you've got your basic guitar/bass/drum combo, but then
you add two brass instruments and congos in with it. What you end up with
is kind of a Big-Bad-Voodoo-Daddy-meets-Barenaked-Ladies-meets-Blues-Traveler-meets-
They-Might-Be-Giants sound, with some ska thrown in for good measure.
They are, as it says on their (horrible) website, "A College Band Gone Awry." Their songs for the most part have a humorous, self-deprecating undercurrent, making it obvious that these guys (and Debi) are out to have a heck of a good time and make some fun music while they're at it. I respect that a lot more than self-important artists who think that their music is "important."
Also of note about Locust Street Taxi is the fact that it doesn't have a lead singer. Like They Might Be Giants, at least two (maybe three) people switch off singing lead on different songs. And on Rain, one of them sings the verses and another sings the choruses. Whoever isn't singing lead usually sings backup to the current lead. One of the singers at times sounds uncannily like the regular lead of Barenaked Ladies. One of them (I'm about 99% sure it's Nathan Geyer) has an uncanny ability, used by some west-coast rappers, to cram an ungodly number of words into as few seconds as possible but still be almost completely understandable (see Busdriver for some great examples of this).
Shut Up... The Grownups Are Talking starts off with a bang with the hugely energetic Stairs, which breathlessly races through it's just-under-two-minutes running time (the shortest song on the album by over a minute). While the brass at times becomes more sloppy than succinct (it sounds like a big wet mess a couple of times), its energy is undeniable, and Stairs is a great opening song to get stuck under your skin and lead you into the album.
The album settles quickly into a groove, mixing medium-high energy songs with some slightly more mellow tunes, averaging about four minutes in length. At times the lyrics can be a little juvenile (College), but at least they're about more than, "Baby, you so hot that I wanna have the sex with you," which is what 99% of music is. Nathan gets to show off his lyrical gymnastics on the very fun Love, and to a lesser extent in Six. Hooks are good and catchy, and with the 60s lounge/jazz infusion they're usually more interesting than what regular rock/pop bands can put together. Some songs overstay their welcome a little bit, especially Hey, Hey, Hey, which at over six minutes is a couple of minutes too long. But the switching of lead singers from song to song gives a good variety that keeps you from getting worn out by the Locust sound.
The album ends with the very good My Day Will Come, sort of an anthem for the disenfranchised losers.
My friends are rich; they all drive fancy cars /
And only drink martinis at the bars /
They all have houses with a swimming pool /
And all of them had several years at school /
My Day Will Come /
But it won't come soon enough /
I said, My Day Will Come /
But it won't come soon enough
The song Cuba is kind of an odd duck. Appropriately infused with some mellow Latin sounds, the lyrics are a confusing jumble about three people who are constrained by Castro's "brutal Communist regime," and a bag of coffee beans. The song eventually peters out into a spoken-word ending in which the narrator says:
I got the girl, I ate the burro, I fixed the car. Castro got shot. Not by me (laughs). Anyway, we're leading a pretty good life. We've got 30 kids.
By far the standout on the album is Akiko, which is a surprisingly tender and beautiful portrait of a young college woman. The verses are backed by simple bongos, some quiet high hat, and very mellow guitars. The choruses are actually provided by a rather soulful brass section and have no lyrics. The lyrics during the verses are full of very specific details about this woman:
I see her driving a red Geo Metro /
With flowers on the dash /
You can hear her coming from miles away /
'Cause she's blasting a tape from The Clash
And some nice observations about the way she's perceived by the people around her:
When the girls all ask her what the boys will think /
She says she really doesn't care
She makes all of the other girls jealous /
And her professors mad
It's truly a beautiful and striking song, especially in contrast to some of the funny, fun, high-energy songs that fill the rest of the album.
So that's what I think about that. I highly reccomend this album for people who are interested in independent music that isn't as "important" as Emo crap, but is instead some unique, good fun.
I also recommend that you go to their website (I wish you could go to it without having to actually look at it, though) and dig around, because you can find several songs that aren't on this album, including many live improvised songs and a fantastic cover of The Muppet Show Theme Song. The best song available from digging through their site is Step in the Right Direction, a very pretty and bitersweet song about a man having a dream about a woman he lost.
Some dreams are happy /
And some dreams are sad /
Some are frightening /
They drive you mad /
Some are like paradise /
You can almost taste the spice /
Those are the dreams too good to be true /
Those are the dreams where I never lost you /
But maybe that's a step in the right direction...
Hmm... maybe I'll offer to make them a new website or something...