Noah Taylor; does that name sound familiar? Well, it might not, but it probably should. Taylor is one of those Kevin Bacon-esque, eclectic actors who has been in a surprisingly large number of films – well-known, acclaimed ones too – and just never seems to gain the appropriate recognition for it. Now this English-born Australian turns his hand to music, forming Noah Taylor & The Sloppy Boys with Ed Clayton-Jones of The Wreckery and Cec Condon of The Mess Hall.
Live Free Or Die!!! really could have been a live album, if only it wasn’t recorded in a studio. In fact, it should have been a live album, something for the fans to listen to as a reminder of what was an amazing gig. Because, there is no doubt that Noah Taylor & The Sloppy Boys would make for a powerful, brain-etchingly memorable show. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite translate into mp3 format – at least, the tracks found on Live Free Or Die!!! don’t quite make it there.
It must be concluded that this is sloppy work. And while some sloppy can be good, the type that is carefully thought out, or that one-in-a-million recording that captures some brilliant sense of abandon, this is neither. The album doesn’t really start anywhere, and then finishes on a lull. While the lyrics may be a cut above what is usually peddled out, the music in no way compliments them – it is overly heavy handed and often grating.
In parts the record is reminiscent of ’60s, under-the-radar act the Michael Yonkers Band. Except, where Michael Yonkers’ vocals provide a certain edge of frenzied menace that sees blues entering the realm of the psychedelic, Noah Taylor’s are far less idiosyncratic. It sounds as though he’s trying to achieve the cool, detachment of Nick Cave (to whom he, funnily enough, bears somewhat of a resemblance to) – and one might be fooled into thinking that this has been achieved. However, any sense of transcendence over the music is an illusion, created by the fact that the band had no practice together before making the album.
This is no carefully constructed disarray, as with the apparently casual jam recording that was The Beach Boys’ ‘Barbara Ann’. No, this is just a recording (done in 24 hours, with the songs written the week before) that was released as an album.
– Serrin Prior