The Taxis – Rude Girls Ride Free EP

The Taxis
Rude Girls Ride Free EP

Has it been long enough? Wait a minute, let me check. And….now, it has officially been long enough since the death of ska to start listening to it again. Does that make ska retro now? Are plaid suits going to come back in style? I hear the cheers of highschool trumpet players everywhere.

If you haven’t guessed, ska isn’t really dead. It has just receded off the airwaves and been relegated to punk kids with a few extra members to their band. The Taxis, a Portland, Maine, band, are still playing ska, and they’re not afraid to admit it. So how does a band today manage to play ska without sounding either retro or tired? I suppose you just do what The Taxis do, play it with energy, enthusiasm, and wit.

“On My Own” is clearly the strongest track here. Starting off slower and then kicking in with more punk energy, this song is both catchy, bouncy and well structured. It really shines in the slower parts, with singer Josh Malia’s vocals sounding quite sincere. “$20 Pay” is pretty much straight-forward Fat Wreck-style pop-punk, fast-paced and with plenty of backing “whoa-ohhhs.” “Can You Say” is back to the ska, with that ska beat that will have you bobbing your head whether you like it or not, and the emphasis is placed more on the horns here. The beat and flow of “When Pat Was Here” endears me to it, although the vocals aren’t especially strong. The guitar is pretty damn good, too, putting aside the ska feel for a while. And finally, the band ends with a ska-happy romp, “Put Your Hand.”

Ok, so ska never really was my thing, honestly. I own the odd Mighty Mighty Bosstones album or two, but the rest of the ska craze pretty much had me confused. But I appreciate the bouncy beat and punk enthusiasm, and now that every other song you hear doesn’t feature horns, it’s nice to hear them again. The Taxis might not be the most original thing to come down the pike, but they’re doing what they love, and we can’t fault them for it. Especially since they’re having fun and doing it well.