Sound — 9
For only having formed a few years back, AM Taxi has proven quickly that it's a band that has an incredible knack for writing a catchy song. The Chicago natives manage to convey raw honesty with an accessible, melodic sound that will likely connect with a variety of listeners. The major label debut We Don't Stand A Chance, which was produced by Mike McCarthy (Spoon, And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead), thankfully avoids sounding overproduced or too sleek for its own good, and the imperfect quality of the power chord-driven tracks remains intact. AM Taxi's blend of rock and punk doesn't necessarily go into undiscovered musical territory, but among the 11 tracks on We Don't Stand A Chance, there is rarely a disappointing moment. AM Taxi's web site describes the band as having a blend of old-school punk, world, and modern pop influences. Check, check, and check. That's a description that is exceedingly accurate. You can sense a heavy mix of influences within the band, whether it's in the Clash-fueled chorus of Charissa or The Replacements-like vibe of the first single Fed Up. Many of the arrangements on the album do have an anthemic style the kind that audiences want to sing (and or shout) along with before the first verse is over. In terms of the world music reference, it's subtle but very much present. The best example arrives in Dead Street, which features a touch of calypso. It's yet another similarity to The Clash, who would also dip into musical traditions from across the world without fear of what punk purists might say. Granted, AM Taxi does inject a heavy dose of traditional popular music within most of their material, but they also know key ways to keep ideas fresh and interesting. A truly refreshing aspect to We Don't Stand A Chance is on the production side, which has allowed the grit of the guitars to come through in the audio mix. There are times when the chords sound far from pretty, but it works perfectly in the context of the song. The background vocals are likewise sung by large groups of people (most likely the band members) who don't have the most aurally appealing tone to their voices but again, it works. That being said, AM Taxi isn't afraid to show its sweet side, with tracks like Champagne Toast and Tanner Boyle Vs. The 7th Grade stripping the sound down to a clean guitar and vocals.
Lyrics — 9
One of the biggest selling points about AM Taxi is the originality of the lyrical content, which bounces between straightforward storytelling and wry confessions. From vocalist/guitarist Adam Krier's self-effacing confessions in Mistake (I will be the razor baby; I will be the pill; I am the ambulance that never comes; The antidote you spill) to the rich storytelling in Fed Up (We climb to the roof to watch the drag race sunset; Beneath the power lines. It's cars first, it's dust tonight, Before the vampires come alive), AM Taxi's songs make for a nice diversion from the usual rock lyrical format.
Overall Impression — 9
If you prefer your punk rock to deliver edginess through and through, AM Taxi may broach the pop genre a bit too closely for your liking. However, this is a band that has delivered a CD that features memorable hooks for days and that fact alone makes this band worthy of a listen. Although there isn't a full-on dangerous quality present on We Don't Stand A Chance, there is an honesty and grit that seeps through each one of the 11 tracks.