There can be an inherent danger in self-identifying or being identified as a Jam band. The term is sometimes a derogatory description of gropus that play the skeleton of a song and then haphazardly noodle their way around the melody for interminable stretches of time. Sadly, a lot of compositionally gifted outfits get lumped in with other lesser lights simply by virtue of their fleeting sonic similarities and tendency toward extended improvisation — something that can be limiting when building an audience. Nashville, Tenn.-based quintet Moon Taxi definitely fits in that category, though it has overcome the stigma over time.
Moon Taxi’s roots go back to high school pals Trevor Terndrup (guitar/vocals) and Tommy Putnam (bass), who formed the band when both were attending Belmont University. Terndrup, Putnam, guitarist Spencer Thomson and drummer David Swan began gigging around Nashville and in regional college towns until Swan departed after graduation. Drummer Tyler Ritter was brought into the fold in 2006, and keyboardist Wes Bailey was added as a utility live member shortly afterward. With 2007’s Melodica, Bailey was awarded permanent status. Moon Taxi’s lineup has remained intact ever since.
The band formed its own label, 12th South Records, and became a fixture on the Jam circuit, while also increasingly focusing on its sonic diversity and songwriting, earning Moon Taxi broader critical favor and fan attention. With 2013’s more polished and widely distributed Mountains Beaches Cities, Moon Taxi’s audience continued to grow and the group landed slots on The Late Show With David Letterman and Conan.
This year, Moon Taxi was again a big hit on the summer music fest circuit (Walk the Moon’s Nicholas Petricca joined the band at Lollapalooza for a cover of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”) and, in October, the band’s fourth album, Daybreaker, was released. The songs on the new album are some of the group’s most direct and memorable yet, and the now-trademark blending of musical styles results in a balance of quirky, danceable Indie Pop, Classic Rock melodicism and other elements that are so effortless and graceful, it just feels natural. In its fearless genre adventuring, Moon Taxi has developed its own distinctive sound.
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