TAXES is mainly the project of Robby Cronholm, who as a teenager played in (the original) crumb, an emo pop punk outfit that toured with the likes of Get Up Kids and Jimmy Eat World and whose final record included contributions from Blair from Knapsack, Jimmy from Jimmy Eat World, and Rachel + Petra Haden.
The new TAXES record is full of punky emo gems and also features vocal contributions from bandmate Aishlin Harrison (daughter of Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison).
The band is releasing “Retirement Home” tomorrow, November 4th, but today we’re stoked to give you an early listen of this captivating offering, along with a special track by track commentary below.
For fans of: The Weakerthans, The Menzingers, Jimmy Eat World, Sunny Day Real Estate.
If Taxes’ new album, Retirement Home, goes largely ignored, that would be fine with singer Robby Cronholm.
That’s by design; a plan engineered by Cronholm who, in the 1990’s, did the exact opposite when he helmed the band crumb. His musical ambition and passion, built up since he first decided he’d pursue music at five years old, did not serve him well when the band crumbled, and he developed personal demons and persistent despondency that lasted close to a decade. It’s been awhile now since Cronholm has felt the tingling of excitement before an album blows up, and he’s now a seasoned enough musician to understand that that’s okay.
Active now since Cronholm’s self-imposed recovery in 2010, the Bay-area conglomerate’s vigor is renewed on their newest album Retirement Home. “Sonically, I’m really proud of this record,” he says. “ I think it’s the best work I’ve done, and maybe that’s enough for right now.”
Retirement Home has the sense and maturity of seasoned musicians, writing songs to satisfy their own love of writing and music as much as that of their fanbase. Thematically accepting the idea of growing old while also loving your past, Taxes have committed themselves to formidable earnestness and contemplative pleasure in their compositions, resulting in an effort that’s both raw and polished, sleek and graceful, and emotive enough to push listeners to feel something new and unfamiliar.
Track by track commentary by Robby Cronholm:
1. Asbestos – Demodex folliculorum is a microscopic mite that can only survive on the skin of humans. Usually, the mites do not cause any harm, so are considered an example of commensalism rather than parasitism. They are frequently referred to as eyelash mites, as they live in the base of your eyelashes. Upon learning this I felt less alone, even after god abandoned me.
2. Last Call – Before becoming Dad of the Year I spent many nights in a dive bar, namely the 2 a.m. Club in Mill Valley. I got really tired of hearing Semisonic’s “Closing Time” on the jukebox at 1:45 a.m. I wrote this song as a cash grab to cover my bar tab. Hey, that rhymed. I should write lyrics.
3. The Vulture – Using animal imagery in rock lyricism is like beating a dead horse. This song features a sparrow and the titular vulture and the next song features a rabbit. Also, this song was inspired by the film “Swimming with Sharks”. That’s five animal references for those of you keeping score at home. I shouldn’t write lyrics.
4. Rabbit Cufflinks – The aforementioned rabbit reference. Put simply, a song about living long enough to not regret lost love.
5. Frozen Lake – A song about the people we love and, often, wish we didn’t.
6. Foie Gras & Sancerre – It’s cruel, I know, but living well is the best revenge. Also? Tommy Lee gave me a metal sign and a smile after I finished tracking these screams in his home studio. This is a true story.
7. Long Con – A tone poem of sorts. I saw Fugazi at Fort Mason in ’93 with the drummer from my pop-punk band, Blear. He passed away not long after and the show haunts me to this day.
8. The Screen Actor’s Guilt – This song was inspired by Billy Wilder’s classic film, “Sunset Boulevard”. Actors are despicable, narcissistic, self-centered prima donnas who think they, alone, are able to speak to the one and only true human condition. Sorry, sorry, I meant lead singers.
9. Ones & Zeros – Hard Determinism states, in the simplest of terms, that there is no such thing as free will. My therapist hates this idea as I often use it to let myself off the hook. However, I find a certain beauty in it. We’re complex machines not yet fully sentient, believing we are; like characters in a Greek tragedy without being privy to the chorus. I often feel as if my favorite songs are the ones that wrote themselves and perhaps they did.