Thursday, July 06, 2023

Taxi Girls - Coming Up Roses

Coming Up Roses, the debut EP from Montreal-based trio Taxi Girls, was almost certainly my most highly anticipated release of 2023. It's no shocker, then, that it has turned out to be my favorite record of the year so far. What Jamie, Vera, and Lynn have done with this band is to remind me of the excitement I felt when I first discovered punk rock music. It's not like I've ever lost that thrill in the decades since, but Taxi Girls renew that feeling in a very big way. 

Co-released by Dirt Cult Records and Wild Honey Records, Coming Up Roses is a perfect EP in the respect that every track is essential. Not one second is wasted. Even with two singles having been released in advance, fans have plenty to dig into since all five of these songs could have been singles. I have struggled to identify the "hit" simply because I have a different favorite track every day! And since each song sounds very different from the rest, it's all the more difficult to pick a standout. But why even bother picking a standout? Coming Up Roses is basically five A-sides packaged together, and Taxi Girls have done us a great service by not making us wait months for each new song to come out! At a time when so much punk music is crafted to fit into a sub-genre of another sub-genre, I'm pumped to hear a band like this that's just pure punk rock (and pure energy). This is the kind of record that kids will hear, and it will make them want to pick up a guitar or buy a drum kit and start their own bands. And I can't help but hear a '90s punk feel in a lot of these songs that takes me back to when I was a young pup coming up in the punk zine world. "Good Grace" sounds a little bit like The Muffs if they'd tried to rock your face off. "Sunshine" has me recalling a time when Green Day was carving out an exciting future for rock and roll. The urgent garage rock anthem "Hands Off" is reminiscent of the '90s heyday of fierce & fiery feminist punk rock. Yet nothing about this EP sounds dated or derivative. Producer Ryan Battistuzzi has done a fantastic job of giving these songs a huge, powerful sound that punches up the guitars while still highlighting that amazing rhythm section and some stellar harmonies. 

Comprised of five tracks running at just under 12 minutes, Coming Up Roses is totally satisfying but will still leave you wanting more. And isn't that exactly the way a debut release ought to be? I love that Jamie, Vera, and Lynn use the art form of punk rock to say some important things, yet they understand that above all else, this kind of music is supposed to be a whole lot of fun! All these songs were seemingly made for you to sing (and dance!) along with. I envision a lot of people hearing these songs today and contemplating how amazing they'll sound live. If you're already a fan of these women from their other bands, you'll recognize the talent but also discover that Taxi Girls are something entirely new and original. From the racing summertime punk rock of "Sunshine" to the furiously rocking call to action of "Hands Off" to the quintessential power pop punk of "Stay With Me," the range of material is impressive and immensely promising. These three are formidable musicians and songwriters, and on top of that they've got the one thing that makes us truly fall in love with a band: personality. Vinyl release on Wild Honey is a one-sided 12", and it's gonna go fast! Dirt Cult is doing a limited edition cassette release. If you want a physical copy of this EP, do not mess around!

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