In the current Boston ska scene, third-wave ska-punk holds a considerable market share. It is becoming increasingly apparent that a band has to hold their own in terms of both energy and songwriting. After a steady recording streak since at least 2011, The Takeaways are determined to carve a name out for themselves with “The City,” their new album that came out on February 21st of this year which was celebrated with a release party at Roggie’s and a northeast tour.
Production-wise, I find this album is a marked improvement on the quality of their other material. However, careful consideration was put in to make sure the album retained some of the more lo-fi, unpolished sounds of the earlier recordings which give these songs the sense of being recorded by three guys hanging out, making noise in a garage. While the majority of the album is third-wave influenced ska punk, a few songs (“Bike Song”, “Best Friend”) add a spice of folk-punk at different points in the album’s runtime.
The album’s artwork is a stark grey drawing of a shadowy cityscape. This is fitting, as I feel like it accurately reflects the paranoia and angst expressed lyrically throughout the record. This tone is apparent on the title track, a slow-tempo third-wave ska tune that includes a great dub section and energetic coda that make it the centerpiece of the album. Along with that track, the most interesting tracks on the album also happen to be the longest, as the ska-punk goodness of “Post-Apocalyptic Existence” and “One and The Same” provide both the catchiest melodies and best grooves on the record.
To record this album, the band reportedly spent 24 hours straight on a road trip to a studio in Nashville, Tennessee. As someone who has endured that drive on more than one occasion, I instantly resonated with the fitting lyrics of the folk-punk “Bike Song” in which the narrator finds joy in the pains of traveling endlessly to quell personal demons. In the context of the album’s creation, the lyrics reference the various physical and mental tolls that come with creating and playing music that are dwarfed considerably by the euphoria of a finished product.
One interesting and rather surprising influence I can notice is The Aquabats. This mainly comes through via the vocals, as the often nasally delivery as well as certain melodies (particularly the chorus vocal parts in the title track and the opening verse of “Sleep All Day”) sound like something that could be found deep in the recesses of The Aquabat catalog. It’s almost as if I were listening to a record from some weird parallel universe where The Aquabats never discovered Scooby Doo and surf rock, but instead became a third-wave ska infused punk band with noticeable folk influences. The similarities end there, however, as “The City” stays firmly grounded in reality by sticking to more serious subject matters and not including any songs they may have written about little pirates.
Currently, The City and more recordings are all available as a name-your price download on The Takeaways’ Bandcamp. If you can spare a few bucks, please help support this local band!
BIG TUNES: The City, Post-Apocalyptic Existence, One And The Same