MANILA -- Taken by Cars celebrated the vinyl record and video release of "Plagues" on Saturday at 20:20 Bar in Makati with an electric show featuring songs from the new album sprinkled with some of their old stuff.
As the album, produced by Miguel Alcaraz and Raimund Marasigan, was previously made available via free but limited digital download last March, the highly enthusiastic and appreciative crowd already knew the songs. Some danced while many nodded and tapped; no doubt infected by 'plagues' cast down by the band.
While Taken by Cars chartered a more deliberate and shoegazey approach to "Plagues" allowing for the melodies and harmonies to shine (not to mention the superb musicianship of the band), their live performance has not changed one iota. It remains supercharged.
Time and growth have seen Taken by Cars become more confident in their abilities and a slower sound allows each member of this five-piece band to showcase their chops sans the effects and heavy synths that dominated their first two albums. And that translates well into their live sound. Especially at last Saturday's release show (it was my first time to see them perform live in a while).
The video of “Turn of the Tide” had this mysterious feel to it. Plus, it featured 1990s star Ina Raymundo.
As for the vinyl pressing, the cover is arresting with this young man holding up the neon sign of the album’s title with its spot finish. Very smart and it accentuates the signage.
I love the gatefold jacket as it allows for more room and greater readability of the lyrics and the credits (unlike others that have cramped sleeves and liner notes that become unreadable). There’s a poster of the band’s Plagues sign (ain’t this throwback cool). The album packaging and design isn’t lost on me. Just like the band’s new music, Taken by Cars teases and leaves a lot of room for their sonic expansion and now that is damn exciting.
You have to admire the band for its strategy to the new album music-wise and its release. Maybe I’m a little too old school as I like my albums out in physical formats and I eschew streaming or downloads. I believe that recording artists ought to make money not only from gigging but also from their albums and merchandise. And this on vinyl. (While the sainted format is back, the jury is still out how long this will last. And not everyone has a turntable. But that says a lot about Taken by Cars.)
The band defied convention with its New Wavish release in 2008. In these past few years, we’ve seen the return of shoegazer (with the very recent releases by Alcest, Pinkshinyultrablast, Ride, and Slowdive that came in the wake of My Bloody Valentine and Lush’s return, to name a very few that tells you the genre is alive) and the band risked alienating fans used to a more danceable sound.
And that bring me back to the music. I believe the trick about listening to albums is to put it back on months after you first listened to it. If it more than weathers the initial euphoria or thrill of hearing new music – you like it even more – then you know it’s a darn good album. And that is exactly what Taken by Cars’ "Plagues" is – a darn good album.
"Plagues" is initially available via online orders from the band’s Facebook page or at the Grey Market branches at the Bellitudo Lifestyle Strip in White Plains, Shoppesville in Greenhills, and Alfaro Place in Salcedo Village, Makati. The record will also be made available at Satchmi one month from now.