Editors’ Notes With an album cover so reminiscent of the early 1980s — replete with a silhouetted saxophonist and bagpipe player — it's tempting to guess that Taxi Chain may sound like Big Country. In fact they play a rootsy and clever mix of country rock, bluegrass, folk, jazz, and yes, they do incorporate some saucy sax and bagpipe tones, but it all makes perfect sense. Just listen to opening song "Memphis" where the brass sounds imported from a 1960s Stax session. That they can follow this one up with an instrumental which seems like it was written for a Gaelic Scottish wedding reception makes Smarten Up! instantly amazing. "James Brown Ate My Bagpipe" plays exactly like its apt title; had The Godfather Of Soul swallowed a little bagpipe and demanded that the show must go on, it would pretty much sound like this — a funky groove with bagpipes soulfully belting out the main melody. The next three songs shift gears from country to blues to gypsy folk with effortless cool and an absolute musical confidence that shines through the breaks. The birthday song gets a reworking on "It's Your Birthday" with something that comes off like a reunited Pavement playing Flamenco.

SONG
Memphis
1
5:57
 
Smarten Up!
2
4:16
 
James Brown Ate My Bagpipe
3
3:35
 
Cut Me a Key
4
3:19
 
Buck a Joy
5
5:56
 
Tandoori Mustache
6
4:28
 
It's Your Birthday
7
5:15
 
Zimbobby
8
4:52
 
Memphis (Reprise)
9
1:55
 

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