Rock is in good health, with a glut of bluesy and classic rock acts cropping up over the last decade – Black Star Riders, Blues Pills, Rival Sons, The Temperance Movement and Tax The Heat to name but a few. So how does a band stand out from the crowd?
For Tax The Heat the answer is to evolve and change by listening to themselves.
Their second album Change Your Position (Nuclear Blast) is partly inspired by the deaths of Bowie and Prince and their single-minded pursuit of art on their own terms. As with those musical icons evolution is the name of the game, with the Black Crowes influence of their début Fed to the Lions dialed down in favour of more modern Queens of the Stone Age and Black Keys elements.
Their knack for creating catchy little earworms is still as strong, with the politically charged title track chief amongst them; a big hitter with a funky, fuzz-filled synth riff and a huge chorus. Two more belters vying for the top spot include ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘All That Medicine’. The former is an irresistibly exultant rocker with a directness and bassy rumble akin to Brighton based duo Royal Blood. The latter has a choppy, undulating riff and yet another massive chorus, with Alex Veale’s vocal delivery akin to Joshua Homme. The all too short ‘Taking the Hit’ demonstrates the joie de verve and the infectious sense of swagger that runs through the album.
Lyrically they span a range of topics, from the Trump and Brexit inspired title track, outlaws running from the police, and the freedom to be yourself. The latter is covered in ‘Cut Your Chains’, a standard bluesy rocker inspired by a friend of the band deciding to live a gender neutral life. ‘On The Run’, a propulsive riff driven number, is the outlaw anthem in question – an escapist Bonnie and Clyde like tale of a “razor blade eating” couple only out for one another. Whilst a few tracks may fly by on autopilot, ‘My Headspace’ and ‘Wearing a Disguise’, Change Your Position is a welcome serving of concise and catchy rockers and a natural evolution of the band’s sound.