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  • Saturday
  • 20 July 2024

It’s Tax Season with Taxpayer

Boston band makes good on grade school claim.

It’s an extreme rarity to loyally adhere to a plan made at the age of 13, not to mention one made at, say, 23. Life goals for males of this age usually range from “get to second base,” to “make varsity soccer team,” despite the occasional overachiever with dreams of becoming an astronaut or, even better, Tony Hawk. Yet adolescent plans are the root of Boston-based band Taxpayer.

The name Taxpayer has been splashed about in Boston and New York’s music scenes over the past few months, and they recently released their first full-length album, Bones and Lungs (Lunch Records). It’s unknown whether this newfound notoriety is due to relentless energy, or a willingness to play anywhere and with anyone (sort of performance promiscuity), but undoubtedly the word is spreading. At its core, their music is pure, uninhibited rock, though the group is still in the process of fully defining their sound. Their powerful guitar and vocal combinations sharply contrast with the nature of their laid-back personalities. “I think I maybe learned meaning from listening to Fugazi,” says Marsh, over pints with fellow band members Adams, Jones and Tim Peters, who joined the band during their college years, at Remington’s across from Boston Common. “Then we heard Minor Threat and it just blew us away.”

Taxpayer has only recently carved a notch for themselves in the indie music scene. But band members Jay Marsh, Rob Adams and Mike Jones first formed the band while huddled around a cassette player blasting a Minor Threat tape, in an old army tent that Marsh says, “smelled like World War II.” The three friends had not yet conquered algebra when they hatched a late-night plan to form a band.

Since two of the three already owned guitars, Adams was immediately enlisted as the drummer and thus Taxpayer (though nameless at this point) was born. “I bought a drum set and I didn’t play it for six months,” says Adams, “I didn’t even know the snare was the main drum you were supposed to play.”

As high schoolers the trio began performing on the North Shore, which was home to hardcore bands such as Piebald and Cave In, and introduced the boys to the world of punk rock. “We were just playing for ourselves in the first place—it just didn’t matter that we weren’t going anywhere and we weren’t playing any shows,” says Marsh, “We just always liked writing together.” Though Marsh, Adams and Jones vaguely hoped to someday make it big—or at least perform somewhere outside of Marsh’s West Newbury basement—Marsh says commercial success was never their goal. “That was always the dream,” he says, “But it almost didn’t matter if we ever got there.”

This is a fairly common story, yet most adolescent bands, much like adolescent relationships, eventually dissipate. This is not to say that the evolutionary process that produced Taxpayer was without breaks. Band members went their own ways during their college years, and it was only boredom and disillusionment with life after college that eventually reunited them.

It was at the release party for their seven-song EP “I’ll Do My Best to Stay Healthy,” that Lunch Records’ Paul Buckley asked Taxpayer to contribute songs to a compilation entitled Four By Four: Volume 1. This lead to an invitation from Lunch records producer Paul Kolderie, who’s worked with the likes of Radiohead and Hole, to release a full-length album, later titled Bones and Lungs.

The band’s eclectic inspirations are clear on Bones and Lungs; a quick scan through the album’s ten tracks becomes a game of “Name that Musical Influence.” “Bottleneck,” and “Bottom Line” bring to mind Radiohead-style guitar melodies, circa The Bends, while “Gifts With Strings Attached,” which the band recently shot a music video for, is a dead ringer for Joshua Tree-era U2 (the song could easily have included a segway into “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”). “Cut It Again” seems to borrow elements from the unlikely combination of the Cure and Coldplay, and “Dial Zero For Assistance” seems vaguely Pavement-like.

This mixed bag of borrowed elements shows an inclination towards Taxpayers anticipated unique sound. They haven’t quite made it yet stylistically but there are several surefire signs that the potential is there. The pure emotional force behind Marsh’s lyrics and voice (“Don’t trust the ones you love and adore/ People can change with time and they might need you no more”) is an intimate glimpse into his inner-psyche, and his insistence that “You’re better off” on the brief-but-brilliant opening track, “Among Low Clouds,” has me truly convinced that he’s right—and I’m not even sure why or how I’m better off. The determining factor, however, is the closing track “In My Final Year.” Separated by the other tracks on Bones and Lungs by its slow tempo and sharp turn to romantic, the song’s swirling, simultaneously haunting-yet-comforting harmony will immediately lodge itself inside your head. The song seals the albums fate as decidedly catchy, and will make you wonder what more is to come.

Taxpayer will play the WBCN Rock n’ Roll Rumble on April 3, at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA, and WFNX Best Music Poll on May 18 in Boston. For more information see Taxpayer’s official website,, or check out their profile on MySpace,

Caitlin Curran
Monday, 03 April 2006

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2024-07-20 02:45:46
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