I Want You to Have This by Taco JohnathanRelease date: March 29, 2022
Label: Self Released
In just over thirteen minutes, Taco Johnathan takes the punk genre by the throat and slyly subverts it with I Want You to Have This, a tight set of six self-released tracks.
The EP doesn’t pull its punches. ‘Moments,’ the hard-driving opener, forces the listener to reckon with their own self-deception. “You want ‘the old you’ back/ The one from back then/ You wanna save the world/ You wanna save your friends/ But it’s too late…” The slight lag on the chorus vocals mirrors the words: “too late.” But just when the listener feels the tug, begins to wonder if the drag is an error, Taco Johnathan slams that hope back in their face with a perfectly-timed punchline: “That’s what moments do, they die.” This is no error, or rather, it’s your own error, the hapless listener, trying to shift into reverse in a world where there is no going back.
Taco Johnathan takes its name from Taco John’s, a Wyoming-based, “Mexican-inspired” fast food restaurant founded by a white man. It’s a conscious selection. ‘Resting in Peace’ takes racism and poor political attitudes head on: “So you believe that about them/ ‘cuz it’s what your daddy said/ Well — if your daddy said that,/ Then maybe he’s a stupid motherfucker.” The quick-beat hardcore feel explodes into an unexpectedly lyrical solo, guitar travelling in high-speed Blue Öyster Cult style.
In ‘Six Feet Forever,’ social distancing becomes a life choice: “Six! Feet! Forever!/ Even when it’s over/ Stay the fuck away from me.” The humor is laced with self-awareness: “Yeah, I’ll interact with the world as needed/ But every second, aware the whole shit is a trap.” The album has other light moments. ‘My Dog is Cuter Than Yours’ will satisfy every dog owner who knows their own canine is unquestionably “just plain superior.” The song is funny, sweet — and it slaps.
The music itself is hardcore as heck — or is it? Musical sophistication, the antithesis of the original punk anthem, shines out of every track here, from the BOC guitar on ‘Resting in Peace’ to the jazzy bass intro and solo of ‘Go Fast (Sk8er Die).’ Fingers fly through the metal-tinged guitar solo on ‘My Dog is Cuter Than Yours.’ Subversion indeed: the musician behind Taco Johnathan can clearly pull off almost any style, but somehow manages to secure it all within an authentic punk framework.
I Want You to Have This closes with a re-imagining of the Terry Stafford standard, ‘Amarillo by Morning.’ Despite the relentless punk drumbeat, dual guitars wail through the riff with a harmonic Thin Lizzy vibe. The track — and the album — ends with a vibrant shout that will reverberate long after your fifteen-minute break is up.