Last Transmission
Take Sides

by Shawn Browning Last Transmission
Man, oh man, am I behind on this one. As you all know by know (that is those of you not living in a cave somewhere) Take Sides took home the gold medal at this year’s whatzup Battle Of The Bands. In all honesty, this writer was completely surprised. In fact, I was dumbfounded. Not that Take Sides don’t do a fine job of their own brand of punk/ska, but because they are not what you’d classify as darlings of the Fort Wayne scene. This is a band that really hasn’t had all that much stage time, especially considering their drummer, known with a singular moniker Jordan is only 14 years old. Having said all that, I beamed with pride at the fact that Take Sides won for two reasons. One, they kick some major heiny, and, regardless of age or stage time, they do their genre justice. And, B, it was good to see these young upstarts send their older counterparts back to the woodshed with tails tucked firmly between their tails. I always love the underdog.

Now, you may have noticed my classification of Take Sides as punk/ska, choosing to shun the more popular genre name of ska/punk. To be honest, the only thing these guys really have going for them in the way of ska is a little chink-chink guitar here and there and the blast of a trumpet from Andrew Meredith now and then. Okay, guitarist Andy Plank does don a checkerboard tie at most of their shows, and that’s pretty ska, I guess. Bassist Victor Alvarado has all the stock ska and punk rock bass lines down as if he’s studied punk rock 101 at school. The boy’s got it down. Both Andy and Victor are pretty indistinguishable with their snarling, snotty punk vocals trading off.

However, on Last Transmission Take Sides waste no time setting the CD straight, as the listener gets hit over the head with “4 years Past” blasting in with all it’s punk rock glory, then heading straight into chink, chink guitar. I’m completely reminded of Operation Ivy. “Her Little Matchbox” is more of the same. “Anti-Establish Yourself” almost gets a bit metalli-metal, but still pretty darn punk rock. “Remember” is more street level punk rock a la Op Ivy with some nice trumpet lines offsetting the vocal melody, and again, the chink-chink, just to be cool. The title track gives quite a huge nod to Anti-Flag and AFI, which is a really nice break from the more poppy sounds of the previous songs.

“Hit The Streets” is surely the love child of hours of spinning Rancid discs. Even the vocals are slightly flat a la Tim Armstrong. The punk/ska formula doesn’t change at all for “I Don’t Care,” “Miserable,” “F**K You” or “Inside Out.” This is not really a criticism, because AC/DC and The Ramones stuck to their musical guns, and well, sir, we like it that way. The two most ska-esque songs on the disc are “A Better Way” and “Draw The Line,” yet they still maintain a fairly fast punk-rock pace for the most part. Closing out the disc is a really fast AFI sounding song, “Ghosts, Aliens, and Lost Little Blonde Girls”

I would say my favorite part of this disc is Plank’s melodic guitar lines. Also, the production is fantastic thanks, to Neil Parnin of Ozone Recording Studios. My only real criticism is the overuse of four-letter expletives. It’s just not necessary. In fact, it takes away from the integrity and intensity of the lyrics, sometimes coming off like elementary school kids who are trying to show how they can cuss more than the other kids. Also, I was really annoyed by the high pitched feedback at the end of the disc, which I’m guessing was the point, so mission accomplished, gents!

All in all, I have to say this disc is a pretty incredible accomplishment for a band so young and so new to Fort Wayne’s music scene. I speak on behalf of all the losers in the B.O.T.B. when I ask Take Sides, “Now, with this big, fat check and studio time for winning the Battle Of The Bands, what are you guys gonna gives us next?

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