As the old saying goes, there’s only two certainties in life, death and taxes. It’s perhaps unsurprising that the former pops up in music more than the latter, but what the heck we’ve talked about death before, so lets talk about taxation!
Quit the groaning at the back, musicians and the taxman have actually gone back long enough, that there’s some great songs about it! Gary Barlow might have spent his time avoiding paying tax rather than writing songs about it, but what better way to stick it to the man than writing a song about him and making a fortune out of it.
Take George Harrison’s contribution to Revolver, “If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street. If you take the bus, I’ll tax your seat. If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat. If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.” We’re not going to pretend we feel sorry that the government took some of The Beatles money to pay for the NHS and the winter fuel allowance, but Taxman’s as catchy as a cold, and apparently at the time 95% of The Beatles earning went on tax, sure that figure seems unlikely, but who’s going to argue?
Ray Davies‘ tongue was surely firmly lodged in his cheek when he wrote his moan to the taxman, Sunny Afternoon. “The taxman’s taken all my dough and left me in this stately home, lazing on a sunny afternoon. And I can’t even sail my yacht he’s taken everything I’ve got, all I’ve got this sunny afternoon.” We can but hope this is Ray lampooning those born with inherited wealth and a sizeable chip on their shoulder about having to pay their way in the world, but of course he might just have been upset about not being able to buy any yacht fuel.
More recent examples can be found in Mansun’s excellent Taxloss, a song most famous for the video which saw the directors and film crew scattering Liverpool Street station in £25,000 worth of £5 notes. Now that’s how you blow a video budget!
So that wasn’t too painful was it, at least you’ve got a few tracks to whistle next time someone moans that they government is stealing all their money, without considering where the country would be without it!
DEATH IN TEXAS
Death In Texas are husband & wife duo, Ruth & Kane Power, two former music students who’ve been through a revolving cast of bass players and settled on not having one at all. Their self-produced record was mixed by Eduardo De La Paz (Arcade Fire, The Horrors, The National) and mastered by Richard Whittaker (The Who, The Clash)
Ruth’s background is in classical piano, while Kane’s previous musical experience is in the metal and hardcore genres, an unlikely sounding combination we’re sure you’ll agree. What ends up on the record though is considerably more palatable but just as eclectic, going from Noel Coward/Neil Hannonish vaudevillian piano tracks, to rich, electronic numbers recalling Nine Inch Nails or The XX, and light, almost jazzy, takes on Trip-Hop.
They’re New Zealand natives, but have now relocated to London. Ever since we said no good bands have ever come from New Zealand earlier this year we’ve been proven wrong at every turn, so to the nation as a whole, we offer our whole-hearted apologies.
They met in 2004, but only formed Death In Texas after they relocated to the UK in 2009. A self-released debut EP, We Will Implode, came out in 2011. That was followed by the 4-track Pluck EP in 2013. Having toured that album around the country, the duo retired to the studio to work on new material, and the fruits of those sessions comes in the form of their brand new album, Pause Between Breaths, which will see the light of day on November 27th.
Because what they’ve achieved is an adventurous, stunningly produced and intriguing debut record. Ruth’s virtuosic piano playing and soaring, almost theatrical vocals mark her out as a contemporary of Jocie Adams or Dark Dark Dark singer, Nona Marie Invie, whilst the accompanying musical backdrops are varied and always interesting. On top of that some of the playing is phenomenal, the complexity of some of the rhythms is a wonder to behold. Stand out tracks include the albums lead single, A Body, which finds the band in full on Portishead mode. Meandering piano lines entwine with almost industrial synths and beautiful hushed vocals to impressive effect. Elsewhere Waves has the same heady mix of heavy piano chords,complex drum beats and the crisp, enunciated vocal that made The Dresden Dolls so wonderful. Best of all might just be Something New, wobbling stabs of synth and echoing drums crash beneath wave upon wave of layered vocals, it’s a woozy, wash of beautiful sound, and a perfect fit with the bands unquestionable talents.
Give opening track Music a miss, it’s an uneventful, meandering track that outstays it’s welcome by a good few minutes, though who can’t forgive one slip up on an otherwise fascinating debut?
Pause Between Breaths, the new album by Death In Texas is out on November 27th.