In 2010, a little band out of Stillwater, OK by the name of Taddy Porter won me over with their debut album and even secured the titled of “Favorite Album of 2010.” Two years later Taddy Porter is back with their sophomore effort “Stay Golden.” When the band released the first single “Fever”, I have to be honest and say that I was totally on the fence about it. I just chalked it up to the band growing up and decided to rest my thoughts on it until I could listen to the full album. Well, I have listened to Stay Golden in full and I have to say that in all honesty it’s a mixed bag for me.
Right off the bat, opening song “Changes” just hit me in the face. “There’s gonna be some changes made around here” is what lead vocalist Andy Brewer sings and he couldn’t be more right. There have been some serious changes made in Taddy Porter’s delivery and I can’t really say that I feel that they are for the better. Instead of the solid, straight up hard rock of the self titled debut, Taddy Porter opted to go for a more soulful and a kind of Stax Records/Motown sound. This actually isn’t the bad thing. On the heels of the fantastic opening track comes the song “Gun” which channels that dark, brooding psychedelic twang of early Neko Case. As the album progressed, it began to take a weird turn taking me in a direction that I didn’t really love being taken into. The longer it played the more it became apparent that Stay Golden was sounding like one of my least favorite bands of all time: The Black Keys.
The overall sound of this album just started to wear thin on me and the serious lack of stand out guitar presence was not what I was expecting from Taddy Porter. When you’re a rock band with a guitarist as amazing as Joe Selby, why would you not give this boy the opportunity to just rip shit up? The band’s debut was such a guitar lover’s album but for Stay Golden, it’s like they ditched their Aerosmith roots and decided to be The Black Keys. Now this is what really disappointed me because the more I listened to this album the more annoyed I got that it sounded so much like a band that I despise. Songs like “Chemicals”, “We Can Do Anything”, and “Evil” totally left me feeling put off and not really digging them at all but the soul inspired title track and album closer “You Can Count on Me” not only offered some sweet redemption but they also give Brewer the opportunity to truly shine as an amazing vocalist.
I have a hard time really believing that Stay Golden was a natural step and progression for Taddy Porter. The songs on this album that are good are actually outstanding but the delivery and production of the songs just sounds contrived and very restrained. After hearing this band absolutely let shit fly without any abandon, this new direction sounds like someone has put restraints on them. Maybe this is a direction that the band felt like they wanted to move towards in order to be more commercially accepted? Maybe the record label and producers had a bigger hand in steering the band where they themselves wanted the band to go into? Who knows? What I do know is this. Stay Golden has some great songs which show that the band has grown. Am I a fan of this album? Kind of. Am I still a Taddy Porter fan? Without a doubt. I’ll even chalk it up to band being pulled into this direction by other hands but I can only hope that as a band Taddy Porter will grow into their own identity and not one that has been set for them by others.