4 Songs, 7 InchesSelf Released
By Cole Faulkner
Relatively unassuming ska-punk act the The Taj Motel Trio has been entertaining audiences since 1995 but generally maintains a pretty low profile (as with most ska bands these days). For those out of the loop, their discography paints the brass heavy seven-piece as a fun loving bunch with just the right mix of capable original composition and pop-culture inspired references (including instrumental Star Wars covers). So it comes with little surprise that their latest EP, 4 Songs, 7 Inches, offers up an energetic horn-blasting, punked up reminder as to the often neglected merits of present day third-wave ska.
The EP lights up and burns quickly from start to finish, wetting the appetite with a taste of what The Taj Motel Trio’s packed out basement shows must hold. Opener “Burn It Down” feeds off of the classic horn blasts of a vintage Mustard Plug college party tune with the smooth modern vocal edge of contemporaries Mrs. Skannotto. The horns are sharp, tightly executed and upstrokes weigh in with steady, light hearted energy. A blistering guitar solo sends the track above the crowd, setting 4 Songs, 7 Inches up with a showstopper right from the get go. It’s pretty standard stuff (the band takes absolutely no surprises or risks), but doesn’t fumble whatsoever when finding its footing. Moments later, the band revs the tempo for “Up The Punx (In A440),” baring their teeth for a raucous intro and easing into a gang-vocal supported melody. “Here We Go Again” guns for a good old knee raising, elbow swinging,’ skankin’ time (think more Mustard Plug), and “All Outta Angst” feels like Buck-O-Nine finally got back into the studio.
As quick as it started, 4 Songs, 7 Inches wraps up in the midst of an energetic performance. The Taj Motel Trio offer up four tracks of care-free ska-punk in just over ten minutes and then that’s it – the party’s over. While the EP exists as a stand alone product, it plays somewhat like a pre-play demo for a killer video game. The audience gets a small taste of what soon becomes a very addictive intro to a much bigger experience. Hopefully 4 Songs, 7 Inches serves as an exciting gateway to whatever the The Taj Motel Trio are cooking up next.