On White Out


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I'm not certain, but I believe this thing we received at the office is White Out, the new EP from Taylor and the Puffs. The 20-minute cassette is clad in a bright red handmade label, and the title is crudely scrawled in White Out, which has crumbled all over the place (info on the sleeve is in ballpoint pen). The package for the band's CD, You Know That Summer's Comin', is desktop publishing at its most hurried and haphazard. If these were items from Pavement or The Fall, each would be regarded as just one more element of those bands' studied, practiced, and wholly affected amateurism. It's hard to be so sure about these Birmingham guys, though. They may just be plain pathetic. That in no respect precludes their being the best garage band this city has seen in a great long while. Maybe ever.

They are sloppy and wild in the mode of the Stooges or The MC5 (or the Rolling Stones at their worst), which are likely models, yet this band's overall tone often recalls bands such as The Only Ones or The Heartbreakers. If they played fast and hard instead of loose and slinky, they could even be The Saints. A lot of the sloppiness is salvaged, or accented, by white-hot guitar runs that take the sound into Johnny Thunders territory, by way of Billy Gibbons. Vocals, for the most part, remain in the more disturbing/intriguing range of Peter Perret and Nikki Sudden, so you can see why it is difficult to accept this band's approach as just a happy accident. Anyone who doesn't know who Sudden and Perret are should not be allowed near the stage where Taylor and the Puffs perform; in fact, I'm calling security right now.

More pleasing still is the band's tendency to open in a T. Rex kind of way, and then finish the same song as Foghat or even, in the case of "When I Get Around," ZZ Top. Maybe that's what we like about the South. An especially sleazy number, "You're Lost," is basically an extended-very extended-take on Alice Cooper's "Eighteen," although it is doubtful that these lads know they have done such a spooky thing; 18 appears to be their median age, judging from photos. They probably have never heard of the New York Dolls, even though that is who they were in a past life.

The most hopeful quality that these youngsters exhibit is an affinity for the rawest segment of the T. Rex/David Bowie glam era. If they continue in that vein, it is imperative that the very able guitarist Taylor Hollingsworth tune his instrument and choose his chords as though he were Mick Ronson. They've already got the Marc Bolan thing down, and Hollingsworth's excellent blues trappings need no more polishing, as that dulls the edge. Also essential is the addition of catchy riffs and melodies, a Marc Bolan trademark if ever there was one. Yet, if the wonderful acoustic number on the EP is any evidence (it sounded accidentally tacked on, and there's no title, of course), song craft won't be a problem either. Catch this band at City Stages, because right now, they are astonishing, and you'll want to see them before they become amazing. -David Pelfrey, Black & White http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/taylorpuffs

Taylor and the Puffs Originally on Cassette 2004 All songs Taylor Hollingsworth (Sexy Elephant Songs BMI) Macey Taylor Bass on Side B Recorded, Produced, Mixed by Taylor H

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