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Taproot Plead the Fifth CD Album Review

3 June 2010 4 Comments

By: A. Estes

Ten years in the game, and much to the dismay of Fred Durst, Taproot continues to press on. Hot on the heels of 2008’s Our Long Road Home, the band found a new home with indie label Victory records and commenced production on their fifth album with producer Tim Patalan once again at the helm. While one might draw the conclusion that they rushed through the process and created Our Long Road Home Again, nothing could be further from the truth.

From the splash of cold water that is the album’s opener, “Now Rise,” Taproot mean business. Plead the Fifth is, much to the delight of old-school fans, a rocking return to form of the Gift variety. While singer Stephen Richards doesn’t exactly resurrect the rap-rock that plagued much of the band’s debut, the rest of the band (which now includes Nick Fredell replacing original drummer Jarrod Montague) seems intent on re-creating the sonics that made their introduction so potent. Guitarist Mike DeWolf is, without a doubt, in top form, and dominates the record with a wall of sound that is no doubt inspired by guitarists like Stephen Carpenter of the Deftones and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins (both of whom, incidentally, contributed to 2005’s Blue-Sky Research). When he isn’t busy giving the album the appropriate layer of fuzz, he’s allowed the chance to tinker and show off a bit on songs like “911ost” and “Game Over” whereas on albums past, he wasn’t allowed such opportunities. Truly, that little guy sure packs a punch behind his guitar and shouldn’t be underestimated.

DeWolf may incidentally be the hero of the album, but the other three that make up the band aren’t exactly slouches either. Bassist Phil Lipscomb adds to the density of the album and it’s refreshing to have a modern rock band where the bassist is relevant. Nick Fredell meshes well enough with the band so it sounds as if they never missed a beat and is even given a few moments himself to shine. Stephen, meanwhile, continues to improve vocally (even if his song-writing still needs some sharpening) and on tracks like “Words Don’t Mean a Thing” and the single, “Fractured (Everything I Said Was True”), shows just how far he has come in range. He’s still got that intense scream, but has exchanged the nasally whine for a smoother, more stable vocal style that is still distinctly his own. In essence, he and the rest of the band still sound like Taproot, but much more refined.

If there’s one downside to the album, it’s that it is a bit short and feels like it’s missing a key song or two. Truth be told, there isn’t a bad song in the bunch, but there’s nothing with the potential for a hit such as “Calling” or “Poem” here, either, and that’s troubling. Regardless, though, this is still a solid set that will no doubt boost their already energetic and fun live show (Stephen is a mad-man live) while reeling in a few of the fans who may have forgotten what Taproot are all about. Here’s hoping Victory is good to them (as they haven’t been with other bands in the past) and the band has a healthy career ahead of them. If Plead the Fifth is any indication, they’ve still got what it takes to hang with the best of them.

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  • Carla said:

    This sounds familiar.

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  • 5150 said:

    I’ve listen to most of this and it’s not that bad.

    I dismissed these guys about GEEZ, maybe 5 years ago.

    Give them another shot.

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  • 5150 said:

    Things must not be going good for them because they played the Starland a few weeks ago and days before the show the promoter was doing a Buy 1 Get 1 Free.

    Only an idiot would book this band as a headliner in a 1600+ capacity venue.

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