Album Review: Black Taxi’s “Things of That Nature”

Being afraid of cliché, this dirty hipster hesitates to call Black Taxi New York’s best kept secret, but, shit, they just might be. Though, from the recent press and the kinds of shows they’ve been headlining, it’s difficult to define them as a secret. Each time this band takes to stage they project something more professional than what can often be expected from a New York Indie band. (Anyone who’s seen Titus Andronicus will know what I mean when I infer that so many Indie bands look and play like amateurs.) There is a level of poise and confidence that is rare, but they are derived from the fact that these fellas are terrific musicians and they write killer songs. The band had previously released two EPs, “Black Taxi EP” (2007) and “Untitled” (2008) that offered small windows into their range within the Indie/Pop/Rock format. “Pretty Mama,” the third track on their first release is the sort of song that makes one a fan of a band based on one track. Luckily, the band’s latest release, “Things of That Nature,” an ambitious 13-track EP, opens the doors to a mansion of creativity and pop brilliance.

Black Taxi's Ezra Huleatt at MEANY Fest
Photo courtesy of Denika Peniston

Now, since this dirty hipster has always found album reviews that articulate the reviewer’s most minute, second-to-second thoughts track by track to be unbearably boring and unhelpful, I’ll keep this (and all reviews to follow) brief and accessible. First off, the album is great. Really, really great. Another common reviewing practice that this dirty hipster abhors is the use of comparison. That is, saying that a band like Dr. Dog reminds one of The Beatles is not interesting; nor does it seem necessary or effective. Who doesn’t sound like The Beatles? Shit, Black Taxi sounds like The Beatles. There are also elements of the dancier tracks from The Talking Heads; pop elements from The Bravery and, and, and… see what I mean? What Black Taxi’s “Things of That Nature” is all about is strong, driving beats from the rhythm section (bass – Krisana Soponpong :: drums – Jason Holmes) that you can dance to if you’re a chick or head bang to if you’re a dude. The guitar work (Bill Mayo) is absolutely superb. Superb! I say. He has excellent taste and timing. He knows when he needs to be the rhythm guitarist, he knows when he needs to shred and he knows how and when to create a lead melody. He also has a gorgeous voice (esp. “It’s a Ball” & “Can’t Bring Myself to Care”).

Now, every great rock band needs a frontman. One that, while the other members may have presence out the ass, you in the audience can’t help but fixate on this one dominant figure. Black Taxi has their Mick Jagger in the form of Ezra Huleatt. In concert he is the emcee. He’s the shirtless dude with the American flag bandana and glitter paint on his face. On the album he is provides the band’s grit, the intrigue. Huleatt displays his diverse musical ability as he can be heard either belting out earnest vocal lines, laying down a trumpet solo or pumping out melodies on the Fender Rhodes. Not to mention various percussive instruments sprinkled throughout the album.


Courtesy of Artisanal Television

Black Taxi’s “Things of That Nature” is an album for which you should really shell out the $9.99 on iTunes. I did. And I’ve certainly already gotten my $10-worth of enjoyment out of it. One thing this dirty hipster would like to stress is how good these guys are live. Theatrical, endlessly entertaining and pitch-fucking-perfect with their instruments. Get out there and see them January 28 at Bowery Ballroom, it’s one of the best shows you’ll see, well, maybe ever. Certainly would be nice to catch them at a joint like Bowery before you have to pay $50 to see them at The Garden. I’ll be there, for sure. -DFH

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3 Responses to “Album Review: Black Taxi’s “Things of That Nature””

  1. Jon Says:

    amen!

    this band is great and they are EXPLOSIVE live

  2. Peter Wright Says:

    I saw Black Taxi last year at Mercury Lounge and it was definitely the most insane live show I have ever seen. As you wrote, their musicianship, unlike most indie bands, is off the hook. Glad to see someone is digging deep in the Brooklyn scene behind the “it” bands and Pitchfork reviews for the true underground magic.

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