Hear ye, hear ye. We can now officially welcome Taylor Hawkins to the category of drummer-turned-front-man. Hawkins is, of course, the former drummer for Alanis Morissette and the current stick-twirler for the Foo Fighters. He joins a very small number of individuals in this group, which includes former Nirvana drummer and fellow Foo, Dave Grohl, who can probably classified as making one of the most successful transitions in rock history. Because the two are so closely associated with one another, it seems unavoidable for us to compare their music and success.
However, Taylor Hawkins and his band, the Coattail Riders, step away from traditional rock music to produce a sound that can only be described as eclectic. If you were to classify the group’s self-titled debut into a particular genre, you might liken it to something that sounds like an ’80s indie film soundtrack. Just imagine a film in which the protagonist takes one of those “what does it all mean” road trips across the United States. The first pit stop would be in some stereotypical dusty Southern state, where the song “Wasted Energy,” with its extreme country feel, would play gently in the background. The protagonist would then continue to a jaded Hollywood party of drugs and booze, where the crunchy “It’s OK Now” would blast through the speakers. The film would then reach its end with a long shot of the main character in his or her convertible ’60s Mustang, cruising along to “Running in Place.” “Running” offers a perfect resolution to this fictional movie. This isn’t to say that all the songs follow this particular narrative sequencing. There are a few that stand on their own, such as “Walking Away,” the record’s only all-out rock song.
Different would be the most appropriate term to describe Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders. One might even go so far as to call them extremely different. Although at times the band’s influences – such as Queen and the Foo Fighters – are a bit obvious, Hawkins steps away from conventional rock with an album that is more musically driven. His husky, whispered vocals, which were first introduced on “Cold Day in the Sun” off the Foo Fighters’ In Your Honor, take a backseat to the music, which experiments with various genres and instruments. However, one flaw in the album is that all the songs tend to flow together, creating a single, rather long-winded overall sound.
In the end, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders is a successful first attempt for Hawkins. If his main goal was to create an album that was a return to classic rock with an added modern twist, then it would be appropriate to say that he has definitely proved himself in the music world as a solo artist.
[Amita Chollate has a thing for indecisive musicians.]