Joel Alan Taylor
At first glance, Joel seems like a very quiet and mellow kind of fellow. He is a man of few words, but usually those are good words to live by. His songwriting is, much like his personality, brutally honest with a gentle wit. With his zero bullshit attitude, he's the kind of songwriter that makes you smile about a terrible situation. To top that, he's a sick guitarist. With a passion for rock n' roll, and a natural talent to recreate it with his own flavoring, he brings the audience on a psychedelic music induced journey. With his perfectly crafted riffs and his clever words, he brings you on an existential journey, where you start to question your relationship with yourself and where you stand in life.
Originally from Lancaster PA, Joel is a self-taught guitarist and a life-inspired songwriter. He began writing while in rehab, inspired by what he calls the "classic recklessness of a junkie". From there, he spent two years in Block Island, Rhode Island, developing a very intimate relationship with his beloved guitar. Back in those days, he wrote prose and journalism for The Block Island Times in RI. One day, the West Coast called him- and with a guitar and a suitcase, he headed across the country to San Francisco in 2014.
Upon arriving, he wasted no time in building his name and reputation on the West Coast, frequently attending open mics in the city, making close friends with fellow musicians in the scene. He started performing shows within a few months, and got to work on recording shortly after. With the help of Bozho Lasich, he recorded an acoustic studio record entitled FTM.
FTM is an acoustic and simple album, and does a fantastic job of highlighting the extent of Joel's talent and his complexity as a musician and songwriter. This album highlights some of Joel's relationships and realizations prior to moving to SF, and speaks of the struggles of being new to this cruel and expensive city.
It's really "San Francisco" off of this album that had me hooked on Joel's music. The city of San Francisco has changed a lot in the last decade or so, and is no longer represented by the flower-wearing children of the 60s and 70s. The "San Francisco" track featuring Maya Hall (See my blog on her here) challenges the happy go-lucky hippy reputation of the city to truly depict what it feels like to be a current day artist in this city. This song has a defeated, cynic and practical tone, and speaks of the personal yet not so isolated experience of numerous newcomers into the golden city. This song is beautifully crafted and a pleasure to listen to.
If you want to listen to this album, or simply are curious to know what FTM stands for, listen to this album here.
The Cooper Taylor Project
We didn't hear much of Joel Taylor in the early part of 2016- well, not a whole lot out of his mouth anyways. But boy, he sure made his guitar weep, moan, and sometimes even scream bloody murder. A lover of sexy and guitar-heavy Rock n' Roll, Joel dedicated a year between August 2015 and 2016 to The Cooper Taylor Project. "The Project" was a high energy, high octane collaboration between Joel Taylor and Ethan Cooper. In the midst of the San Francisco music scene, the two friends developed a partnership. For the most part, the band consisted of the two friends, Eddie Delaney on drums, and Tony Hernandez on bass. With Ethan's poetic and rich songwriting and Joel's utter focus on his electric and psychedelic weapon of choice, the two brought a unique sense of angst and urgency to the stage. The band's chemistry transferred to the crowd and translated to late night fast paced footwork and dance parties.
...If only for a brief moment, as the two now live on opposite coasts of the country.
You can read more and listen to a live recording of The Cooper Taylor Project here.
Though Joel didn't play many solo shows during that year, he was certainly keeping busy, recording his second self-titled EP release. At this point in his career, he had made some serious connections in the music industry, which helped him deliver on some ambitious plans.
The most impressive feat of this album is hands down Joel's ability to persuade Scott Bergstrom of 25th Street Studio, Eddy Delaney, and Tony Hernandez, to record "Forgot How to Cry" in a single take. To fully appreciate the scope of the musicianship between this team, take a look at the video put together from this session. Yap, that's how that song was recorded.
This album features "Lost Time", which is my all time favorite song by this man, and has been on repeat and on my mind since Joel first played it at a house party in November 2015. It has evolved drastically since that Fall night, and has become a beautiful melancholic rock ballad. The song starts out as a casual observation on a smelly and dirty streets of downtown San Francisco. It takes an existential turn, as Taylor proceeds to have an imaginary conversation with a homeless man he encounters. The song is somehow haunting, and serves as a reminder of our tendencies to lose our precious time, whether it be with our toxic habits or a toxic mindset. This song gives me the chills. But don't take my words for it... Take a listen here.
Taylor and the Pretty Noises
These days, Joel is the front man of Taylor and the Pretty Noises. This band features Cole Bailey on the drums and Sebastian Strugholtz on the bass. Though the band is still a new development, the trio have already been headlining on the regular around SF. In addition to perfecting their on-stage chemistry, the three will be hitting the studio in early Spring to record an LP. This upcoming record will be Joel's first recording with his own band rather than guest musicians on different tracks. You should definitely put this on your radar, and find ways to encourage and support this band until then.
In case you didn't click on any of the other hidden links throughout this blog, -->here<-- there, right there) is Joel's website. If you think Rock n Roll is dead, well here's your chance to see it alive and well.