Reckless Habits

Great American Taxi

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Reckless Habits Review

by James Allen

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat -- Great American Taxi is not a jam band. It's not too hard to understand how their particular brand of open-hearted Americana has found an audience in that milieu, and maybe they stretch out while swapping solos on-stage, but there's no loosey-goosey jamming whatsoever on Reckless Habits, nor is there the amorphous, there's-a-song-in-there-somewhere approach to composition too frequently taken by jam bands. Rather, GAT is pretty much a straight-up, old-school country-rock outfit. Not only do they wear their Grateful Dead, Flying Burrito Brothers, and Commander Cody influences on their sleeves, they overtly reference their forebears in the lyrics of their songs. The title track chronicles the story of Gram Parsons, telling of his time with the Burritos, the International Submarine Band, Byrds, etc. Ironically, while the title of "American Beauty" is obviously meant as a nod to the classic Dead album of the same name, the tune comes off sounding more like vintage New Riders of the Purple Sage. Like the Dead, though, GAT has a few other arrows in its collective quiver beyond 2-step twang; gospel flavors, boogie bounce, and New Orleans second-line rhythms all pop up over the course of the album as well. And while the band -- led by singer/keyboardist Chad Staehly and former Leftover Salmon singer/guitarist Vince Herman -- fully embraces hippie culture, it's the gritty, sex-drugs-and-rock & roll early-‘70s side of hippiedom (à la the Dead, New Riders, et al) with which they seem aligned, not the drum circle/hacky sack end of things (in fact, they gently mock that very element in "Fuzzy Little Hippy Girl." Ultimately, Great American Taxi comes off like the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers with guitars, or the Dead with a stricter rehearsal regimen.

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