The Taxpayers - Rhythm in the Cages (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Taxpayers

Rhythm in the Cages (2009)

Useless State / Quote Unquote

When a friend of the band submitted Rhythm in the Cages to be reviewed, one of the phrases he used to describe them was "they're like the Against Me! of the Pacific Northwest." The friend was clearly referring to early Against Me! rather than Sire-era Against Me!, and the comparison holds some merit. The band plays aggressive, raw, folk-influenced punk rock with overt political themes, much like a young Tom Gabel and company did--although comparisons to Defiance, Ohio, Rosa, or early Fake Problems are also apt. The band's geography matters too, as the album certainly feels as though it came from the rainy streets of Portland rather than the sun-soaked ones in Gainesville.

The album opens with "Never Getting Warm," which reminds me almost of a more punk rock-sounding Mountain Goats. It's not exactly a great indicator of what is to come on this diverse disc, which becomes more evident with each passing track. "No Lodging for the Mad" is a catchy outlaw country tune that could make you reach for some spoons; "Needle's Eye" is a slow track based loosely on a British schoolyard song; and "Militarstic Kitchen" is almost a dance-punk tune.

For the most part, the band does a good job of seamlessly integrating a variety of genres without sounding like a mixtape. Regardless of whether the song is more properly classified as folk, country, or punk, it still sounds like a tune from the Taxpayers. There are a couple of exceptions to the rule (for example: "White Walls," though a good track, seems a bit out of place), but overall the disc maintains a good cohesive nature despite the variety in the tunes.

Despite being a bit rough around the edges, Rhythm in the Cages is a very fun and diverse listen that is certainly worth your time. Luckily, you can judge for yourself by downloading (and donating) at the disc's page on Quote Unquote Records.