1002: A Rock Odyssey
posted on 12/2007 By:
All side projects are inevitably compared to their members’ primary acts, so I’ll go ahead and get that out of the way up front: Taipan is comprised of Today Is The Day mastermind Steve Austin and bassist Chris Debari, plus Ironboss drummer Patrick Kennedy. Like TITD, Taipan is a clamorous mish-mash of various styles, constantly changing, abrasive and noisy, well-performed and well-produced. Unlike TITD, it’s not metal. 1002 is largely an indie rock / punk venture, heavily indebted to the likes of The Stooges, Black Flag, The Butthole Surfers, and Flipper, with a healthy dash of classic rock influences to keep everything interesting.
1002 declares itself “A Rock Odyssey,” and it’s certainly a journey through various highlights of indie rock. “Hyenas” and “My Big Dick In Your Mouth” remind me of early Mudhoney or Sub Pop-era Afghan Whigs. (“Big Dick” also features the classic stanza “Suck my dick / suck my big ol’ dick / suck, suck, suck / suck Steve’s big ol’ dick.” Who says rock lyrics aren’t poetic?) “Angel Dust” is a Reverend Horton Heat psychobilly guitar workout, while “Baby Loves Daddy” is an indie-pop duet that sounds like X covering The Vaselines. To end the album on a definite retro-punk moment, “This Is Your Life” segues into a cover of The Stooges' “I Wanna Be Your Dog.”
In truth, while all of those songs are well-written and well-played, they’re really not anything I’d describe as “essential.” They’re just noisy punk tunes; they’ve been done before. 1002 has some saving graces in its two least-punk tracks, two dueling tours de force that add enough flavor to keep the record from being just a pastiche tribute to classic indie acts. The latter of those tracks, “Lost Rhodes,” starts out as a midtempo tune before stopping cold and entering a simple cyclical riff that’s surprisingly reminiscent of the breakdown in Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear The Reaper.” (No cowbell, before you ask.) Over the course of the cycles, Austin adds new layers of spiraling dissonant guitar lines. By the end, it’s less Mudhoney and more like something off King Crimson’s Starless And Bible Black (except in 4/4 time and devoid of violins). Even more punk-meets-classic-rock than that is the earlier track “Epiphany,” which starts slow with a descending arpeggiated guitar line and a distant, plaintive vocal. As the song progresses, there’s a strummed chordal bit, and then a synth-flute / guitar interlude, and then the drums enter. Structurally, it’s a psychedelic-punk “Stairway To Heaven,” but with wordless screaming backing vocals and no noodly pentatonic solos.
Unfortunately, as interesting as both of those tracks may be, they still suffer from the fundamental problem that affects the album: they’re disjointed and a bit haphazard. The same criticism could be leveled at Today Is The Day but for one major difference: as random and spastic as TITD’s material may appear to be, it still flows. The songs seldom end up where you thought they would, but they seem to end up where they should. All of Taipan’s songs are good ideas, but the best songs are borrowed wholesale and the best ideas are not quite fully fleshed-out, born of jam sessions and just some bits tossed together without thinking too much about how one bit leads into the next. There’s merit here, but if you go into this expecting TITD-esque quality, you’ll be disappointed. Admittedly, that’s probably the nature of this particular beast. Most likely, this is meant as a vacation for Austin and company. It’s just a breather, a chance to celebrate their influences and rock out for a minute in whatever way they choose. So long as you, the listener, don’t think too much about it either, then everyone can walk away happy.
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