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We Don’t Stand A Chance - Virgin Records
When The Gaslight Anthem unleashed The 59 Sound upon an unsuspecting world, critics, fans, and contemporaries praised the album as an unmatched display of working class honesty, and an ode to the timeless power of gritty American rock n’ roll. But that landmark release also opened the doors for others looking to bring back a sense of sincerity to today’s glossy, sugar coated soundscape.
It was under this climate of heightened appreciation that the small, Chicago based trio, AM Taxi (formerly American Taxi) released their debut EP two years ago. Thanks to a combination of merit and Gaslight mania, major label Virgin Records took note, promptly snatching up the band for their official full-length debut, We Don’t Stand A Chance. Now five members strong thanks to the addition of a keyboardist and second guitarist, AM Taxi stands poised to deliver a career defining performance to an audience hungry for a nostalgic taste of modern America.
And very few will find anything to be disappointed with here. We Don’t Stand A Chance is like receiving a present you didn’t know that you wanted until you opened it. Most listeners won’t know much aboutAM Taxi until they stumble upon a single or rogue track, and end up tuning in to any one of the album’s eleven anthems. Thanks to a captivating combination of Springsteen inspired vocals, humming keyboard, and heartfelt, dirt-simple chords, ears are sure to perk. Throw in an intentionally rustic production value, hopeful, streetwise choruses, and Gaslight fans are sure to quiver with joy.
As for highlights, AM Taxi has the most fun when working towards replicating what is sure to be a killer live show. Focal points include album opener “Dead Street,” which through escalated layers of handclaps, Street Dogs-like backing vocals, and a simple organ hum, generates an inspiring rallying cry for living hopefully in challenging surroundings. Others like “Thanner Boyle Vs. The Seventh Grade,” retreat into reserved verse only to blossom into an uplifting melody that places emotional grievances into worldly perspective. These are tracks that move and inspire, and while arguably not as lyrically articulate as Gaslight mastermind Brian Fallon, aspire at connecting with listeners on a personal level.
We Don’t Stand A Chance is an album that just hits the right notes. Every listen is satisfying, with my experience drawing parallels to the pleasant surprise that was stumbling upon Jesse Malin’s recent solo offering a few months back. And while in both cases I’m guilty of abusing Gaslight Anthem references, I make no apologies since today’s audience will surely experience Malin, and now AM Taxi, through that lens. If AM Taxi’s tuneful melodies characterize the status quo for those following Gaslight’s lead, then I can’t wait for this movement to really take hold.