Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Space Taxi, an international group with an incredibly versatile and eclectic sound. The five piece outfit combines alternative and folk rock musings to create something surprisingly original. The pieces have a hint of Spanish flair to them as well, which makes perfect sense, given the group is based in Barcelona and has members who hail from Spain. (Part of the band is from Colorado stateside as well.) Let’s dig right into their latest studio endeavor, ‘Cheeney Bear and the Spaceman.’
Right off the bat, Space Taxi define themselves as quite the rambunctious group, filling an immense soundscape chock-full of personality on ‘Undertaker.’ Above I mentioned that this blend of music is surprisingly, and I said that because the big-band alternative folk thing is a pretty common pursuit nowadays. It’s definitely in vogue, probably because it combines the folk resurgence with a very rock-like atmosphere, something that can really get a concert hall moving. What’s surprising on ‘Cheeney Bear,’ however, is how Space Taxi makes that subgenre their own. ‘Undertaker’ makes that statement out the gate.
‘Rameses,’ does, however, expand on the band’s original atmosphere even further. I adore the vocal harmonies; they’re so quirky and well organized. More so, the group truly understands how to fill the soundscape with every tiny sonic intricacy that they can. The swooning electric guitar, bombastic percussion, and on mark folk instrumentation all create a glorious aura around songs like ‘Rameses.’
‘Crystal Lake’ infuses a few more styles into Space Taxi’s repertoire. It’s a bit funky, even dynamically introducing some instrumentation you’d hear in a ska song. The string sections dance about with the electric guitar in wondrous harmony. That extends to the electric guitar and acoustic instrumentation on the following track, too: ‘Cousin Vinny and the Scooter Blues.’ This rousing piece quite literally banters back and forth between the two as the group has a call-and-response type vocal dynamic happening. It’s an excellent song.
‘Porno Couch,’ is quite a song, basically depicting the songwriter’s debaucherous journey through Amsterdam. He’s sleeping with a bunch of women, popping pills, and running over squirrels with his van. Don’t all line up at once, ladies. The song’s got such an infectious personality to it; you can’t help but love its ridiculousness. ‘On a Boat’ has a lesser level of peculiarity to it, but it’s most surely present amidst an adventure of Chinese pirates and plank walking.
‘Bugout’ is a particularly rewarding track to listen to, especially with the depth of the instrumentation. I love the production job on ‘Cheeney Bear;’ it’s very good, and does a fine job highlighting each instrument to its finest without creating an overbearing atmosphere. (Which is easy to do on accident with this much noise.) ‘Cosmic Anarchy’ isn’t quite as successful as its predecessors, though, and it does get a bit chaotic, especially in the segments where a different vocalist leads the harmonies and his particular vocals are a bit harsh.
“I can’t wait to eat you, sandwich,” the band proclaims in one of the oddest songs I’ve heard since, well, ‘Porno Couch.’ Actually, I think this territory is where Space Taxi excels. It’s so lovable and well-written; “Who can make me salivate like the way you do?” “Won’t you let me chew on you?” That’s bloody brilliant. It’s so stupid, yet so oddly satisfying. I love it. ‘Thank You But No’ follows with a quirky, equally lovable tune.
‘Android’s Lament’ is a solid effort as you reach the close of the album, but it does lack the hook-laden nature of the rest of the record, feeling a bit monotonous amidst the beautiful commotion that is the rest of the record. I’d actually argue this album may have been even stronger with the omission of ‘Android’s Lament’ and ‘Cosmic Anarchy.’ Fortunately, though, the climactic finale, ‘War Boy,’ is superb. Excellent harmonies bounce back and forth in a more traditional folk effort, one that effectively utilizes string sections to incredible success. It’s a killer finale.
‘Cheeney Bear and the Spaceman’ is one of the most memorable efforts I’ve heard in the last several months in the independent community. There are a couple tracks that are perhaps best left on the cutting room floor, but overall, the sonic experience of the collection is exceptional. At their finest, Space Taxi equips themselves with elegantly bizarre lyricism, creating borderline satirical situations and characters. They’re embarking on a tour in January of Barcelona - If you’re local there, I wouldn’t miss it.
Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1KDbpQp5SQ