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Monday, March 5, 2012

Taggart - For What It's Worse

Name: Taggart
Album: For What It's Worse
Year: 2011
Style: Indie Rock, Alternative
Similar Bands: Tripping Daisy, Fretblanket, Replacements, Soul Asylum, Velvet Underground
"One-Word" Review: Jangly Power Pop
Based Out Of: Philadelphia
For What It's Worse - Cover & Back
For What It's Worse - Liner notes & CD Tray

For What It's Worse (2011)
  1. Good Intentions 2:15
  2. Geometric Mean 2:54
  3. Monsters of Rock 3:42
  4. Sweet Tenderness 2:17
  5. You Never Seem To Mind 2:56
  6. Me & Sweet J 3:21
  7. Deep End 5:35
  8. Gardenia 2:06
  9. Deceived 2:58
  10. Starting Now 2:36
  11. The Great Depression 4:00Path 3:48
  12. Undecidedly So 4:40
  13. (An Evening In) Pamplona 3:16
Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Pete Denton - Guitar, Vox
Steve Denton - Bass, Vox
Jim Becker - Guitar, Vox, Booking (Grammar Debate)
Jim Ward - Drums, Vox
Pete Girgenti - Recording, Mixing
Michael Nuceder - Mastering
John Denton - Piano & Hammond Organ
Matt Hanemann - Artwork

Unknown-ness: This one is a bit of a departure from my normal format. In this case, the guitarist contacted me to see if I'd review the album/band. He said that he read this blog once years ago, because he was in a band I did a review of; Grammar Debate. So, because it still falls along the lines of my idealogy: to review an album that I've never heard of, I said I'd give it a go. They are a current band, and from the album artwork, album's play-on-words title, and their band "photo", I'm going to guess it is going to be complex indie/garage rock.

Album Review: “Good Intentions” buzzes in with a gruff yet nasally vocal style akin to many alternative bands of the 90’s like Tripping Daisy. But the power pop oozes out of the chords as does a bit of alt-country; similar to the Replacements.
“Geometric Mean” has a bit of a back and forth, sing-song melody, with the same grating, nasally vocals that sound as if they are whining up at the microphone. Musically, the instruments take me back to days of discovering a good alternative band opening up for a favorite at a show.
“Monsters of Rock” jangles and rings with a looped guitar melody, which is the direction that power pop took in the 90’s. The vocals are a different kind of nasally in this track. The song is nicely balanced with jangle-pop guitars juxtaposed with heavy guitar undertones. There is an urgency about the music and the vocals, something you tend to find a lot in Soul Asylum’s music.
“Sweet Tenderness” blends seamlessly from the last track but speeds up the sound with fast paced guitars and drums. This makes the track come off a little punk and angsty. But it rolls along very nicely, like a 3 chord cover of a respected classic song.
“You Never Seem To Mind” begins with a crooning guitar that is followed up by a mature sounding vocal that still has a lot of energy, but loses the taxing nasal style. I still have not been able to think of the exact band this reminds me of, but it is in my head somewhere. Actually it reminds me of Eddie "King" Roeser Urge Overkill songs.
“Me & Sweet J” purposely borrows the melody from the Velvet Underground’s Sweet Jane, as the title refers to. The vocals are nasally, seemingly stretched out to an exaggerated extent. In general, it’s a very light song, with short, brief blasts of rock to keep the listeners on their toes. The song ends with a bit of a prog feel, and you almost expect the now-generic “and she’s buying a stairway…” lyrics to finish the song off.
“Deep End” chugs along from the start with a jangley guitar. And the vocals remind me of Pavement. The song has the rock sense of the slacker era of alternative music. The chorus, with energy and bounce charges right into a wall of fuzzed out guitars as the instrumental bridge to the next verse. When the next verse picks up again, it has the feeling of U2’s “With or Without You.”

“Gardenia” begins with an aggressive blast of angry punk rock; raspier than and not as deep as Bob Mould, but a similar vocal. And not quite as rich as Mike Ness, but also similar.
“Deceived” ” features week, strained half-spoken vocals and a looped guitar melody. The chorus is double layered, and gives the song a very amateur, but honest quality.
“Starting Now” begins with a toe tapping promise of energy. And the song kicks in with guitar chords. Musically the song is really interesting. The guitar sound and melody reminds me of the Violent Femmes “You’re So Ugly” but the vocals seem like they were done with one take and just settled upon. They fee mixed down a bit to give the music the floor. The tempo changes for a section about halfway through, but then it gathers itself up with the help of feedback, and comes back bombarding the listener with heavy chords.
“The Great Depression” is a lighter and jangley song that has a bit of a New Order’s “Regret” in its guitar hook. But the lyrics and the delivery are downtrodden, hopeless, and sad. The vocals are strained with memory, and the song is like a middle school slow dance, where the couples dance to the melody, but are not listing to the ironic message.
“Path” is a steady rocking song, and the vocals are again mixed down a little bit, as if to hid its their weakness, even if there is a hint of Mick Jaggar’s nasali-ness in the delivery. The guitar hook in the instrumental bridge with an alarm beeping is a very solid and catchy musical section. But the end features a slew of vocals overlapping and it sounds a bit muddled. Perhaps that was the plan to illustrate the challenges of the “path.”
“Undecidedly So” begins with a smooth, head nodding, guitar hook. That wobbles along and slows to a stop. Then the song quickly picks up, regaining its balance and moves along a slightly different melody. The vocals are nasally and gruff, not to mention angry. They come off somewhat grating. This song does not feel complete, like it is missing a cohesive bond to unify the individual elements.
“(An Evening In) Pamplona” feels like “The Great Depression,” only turned around and played with a positive, rocking vibe rather than depression. This song has neurotic and jittery elements similar to some the great new wave Philly bands, just slowed down a bit and minus a clear & catchy hook. The song fades out, giving the impression that the guitarist is still out there somewhere wailing out the song’s melody continuosly.

Stand Out Track: Good Intentions (live acoustic)

Taggart Rocks
Philly FM Fest

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