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Taken by Cars

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Taken by Cars is a Filipino band that first appeared in the Manila gig circuit around 2007, gradually but successfully building a fiercely devoted following of indie music fans, friends, and peers in the local band scene with their infectious and dance-friendly brand of intelligent and meticulously-crafted brand of indie rock. Fronted by the energetic Sarah Marco, Taken by Cars offers a modern, dynamic sound that typically combines precise interplay from the rhythm section, carefully orchestrated guitar and synth lines, and Sarah’s fairly androgynous but genuinely compelling vocals. The fact that the band is mostly composed of longtime friends who’ve been playing music together since their high school days is another major aspect that contributes to their tight chemistry.

A demo of the song “A Weeknight Memoir in High Definition” was submitted to Manila’s premier rock station NU107, whose programmers subsequently added the track to the station’s regular playlist due to high demand. The track went to Number One, a rare feat for an independently-produced demo. Their debut record, Endings Of A New Kind, was released in 2008 to so much anticipation that five separate events had to be held to formally launch it. The album was received well by critics and fans, and spawned the radio singles “Uh-Oh,” “December 2 Chapter VII,” “Shapeshifter,” and “Neon Brights,” all of which were accompanied by brilliant music videos—all filmed by different directors—that effectively conveyed the vibe and the spirit of the band and each song.

As the band got busier, so did the band members’ personal lives, as each of them held demanding day jobs and were steadily approaching the age in which they could settle down and start families. Taken by Cars experienced its first major setback when original bassist Benny Yap left the band in 2009, as they were preparing to write songs for their next full-length release. This slowed the group’s momentum for a while, but they eventually found a more than capable musician in Isa Garcia, who assumed bass playing duties a few months later. Soon, the band’s level of activity rose from dormant to functioning; they started writing new songs and debuted them one by one during their live sets, and even managed to perform several shows abroad, including one at Singapore’s Baybeats Music Festival that same year. At that point it could be argued that Taken by Cars had become an even better musical unit than before, and expectations rose for the follow-up to Endings Of A New Kind. In fact, Time Magazine included them as one of Five Asian Bands To Watch In 2011, the only Filipino act mentioned on the list.

And indeed, many did watch Taken by Cars in 2011. Their second record, Dualist, was finally released early in the year, and this time, the band even returned to Singapore to hold a special record release show/party for their fans there. As expected of an album by group of gifted musicians driven to improve their craft, Dualist met all expectations, and in most cases, surpassed them. Songs like “This Is Our City” and “Unidentified” showcase highly evolved takes on their trademark dance-rock formula, but other tracks like “Considerate,” “Thrones: Equals,” and the dense, sprawling “Matter Of Fact” sound like they came from a different sonic plane altogether. Many critics and music bloggers have already hailed Dualist as one of the year’s best local releases; fans continue to flock to their shows, and more listeners nationwide are looking forward to seeing Taken by Cars live, as they’ve launched a sporadic provincial tour with other similarly aesthetic local acts and kindred spirits like Pedicab, Gaijin, and others.

With all these achievements in place, pretty much all that’s left for Taken by Cars is to perform at a renowned international music festival and reach an exponentially wider audience. Here’s hoping that 2012 will finally provide them that opportunity.

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