I find, on the whole, people's opinions of today's folk, blues and roots music are extremely black and white. Either you love it or you don't want anything to do with it. If, like me, it's your cup of tea, then you can't go wrong with Taxi Chain. If your interests lie elsewhere, they're not the band for you.
Infusing blues, rock, American folk, even Celtic music, Taxi Chain throws just about everything into the mix including bag pipes, fiddle, sax, piano and organs, all of which accompany the more standard instrumental fare. With song styles ranging from old fashioned Celtic bag pipe stomps to Tom Waits-esque barroom blues tunes, Smarten Up! highlights the wide talents of Taxi Chain.
My only complaint with the album is the instrumental tracks, which, though suited to live performance, have been stretched too far on too few hooks to cut it in my car stereo. These bag pipe and fiddle hooks are catchy, but one hook doesn't keep me happy for six or seven minutes.
For a first effort, Smarten Up! is impressive. Taxi Chain showcases a huge amount of musical talent, which is likely to impress blues and roots enthusiasts. Personally, I will be watching for future news about the band and I suspect they put on a pretty crazy live show.