Review Summary: The Taxpayers want to get naked and show you a magic trick!
Let me give you some background information so you can understand what the *** we’re dealing with here. The “About” section of The Taxpayers’ facebook page describes themselves as such: “We’re a DIY punk band from Portland, OR. We do other stuff too. I can do a cartwheel.” They have free tunes available for download on donations-based label Quote Unquote Records. Rob teaches preschool. Ucha53 on last.fm posted, “Just found this band. I came buckets.” Another possibly reliable user, blingmobile (I prefer to stress the second syllable in “mobile” with a long “E” sound so I can pretend that it’s an actual car. You have no clue what I’m talking about. I’m still keeping this part), claims, “New album makes my ears bleed semen.” In their hometown, over the course of the first weekend of April, they are putting on a “DIY-punk celebration” titled Gathering of the Goofpunx. Other than the music, which is going to be rad, (Some artists participating: Big Eyes, Andrew Link, Ramshackle Glory, Lee Corey Oswald, Arms Aloft, Kind of Like Spitting, The Wild, The Taxpayers), a Spelling Bee will be held in addition to a carnival and a damn parade. When I bought the CD of this album it arrived with the inclusion of the CD. And a Taxpayers poster which needed coloring. The tour EP. An Andrew Link CD. A personal letter. And the To Risk so Much for One Damn Meal
zine, which according to the sweet letter was the author’s personal copy (Thanks!), since they had apparently run out.
I don’t know what image you’ve conjured of The Taxpayers so far, but the theme of To Risk so Much
… is probably much less trifling. In the zine I received there’s some words and stuff so I don’t have to speak for them falsely:
"They are scrappy, pick-yourself-up songs and hard luck songs and they are absolutely shot through with joy and an unabashed love of life. They are songs that ask, ‘Right now, with these hands, what can we do? What can we do to help make this whole heartbreaking business of living worthwhile?’ They are ragged in just the right way. They are brazen acknowledgements of just how hard it is sometimes, this art of living even half-decently among each other.”
The songs also sound surprisingly sharp and thoughtfully-produced (the vox are actually pretty scratchy but in a good way) for a DIY record. It’s all brilliantly written and performed with bounding energy. Many instruments are used to add to the poignancy, both feeding climaxes and subtly making *** awesomer. Let me list some off. We have at least a harmonica, an accordion, keyboards, a mandolin, a couple trumpets, a saxophone, a banjo, a piano, and a trombone all making appearances. “And the Damn Thing Bit Him” has this kickass soaring trumpet(?) part where they rock out. In contrast to all of the frenzy, several songs are slow and folky and just as delightful. On tha IntErwebz I’ve seen comparisons to both Bomb the Music Industry! and The Mountain Goats. Definitely take note of these commenters… and become indifferent to everything they say, they are wrong as shit. I haven’t heard BTMI! play borderline ragtime songs, or The Mountain Goats play 100% catchy songs.
Even considering that listening to To Risk So Much
… is an instant portal to the best house show you aren’t actually at, the album could do with more memorable moments. Those not widely into punk music will possibly grow anxious for the end. Every 4.5-5 rated punk record has to have at least seven instances of infectious and shouted one-liners that get stuck in my head and I can post in the review thread on its own in all caps and then someone like Trebor or Satellite can post the next line, but a dearth of that function exists.