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Local Ska/Swing/Rockabilly

The Allstonians

Allston beat

The Allstonians It seems funny that the Allstonians are something of an institution by now, since it hasn't been long since they were the young upstarts of local ska. That was in 1994, when their track "B-Train to Allston" was the runaway hit of the local compilation Mash It Up. With its infectious groove and two-line lyric ("Ride that train to Allston! Gotta get the hell outta Boston!"), it easily moved faster and stalled less than the B train itself.

Since then the Allstonians have had more line-up overhauls (three) than they've had albums (two), but they've held on to that Allston beat. Unlike many East Coast ska bands, they're neither a reverent Skatalites throwback nor a Bosstones punk-ska hybrid. Instead, they take their cue from the Two-Tone movement, where pop songcraft was given equal footing with the big beat. And their habit of dropping Allston references has grown from a novelty to a real sense of context, with that area's drifters, club rats, and bohos all turning up in their lyrics.

Though the band's third album is way overdue, they've recently put out a six-year compilation with nearly two dozen songs and no duds; their songwriting chops are evident even on their instrumentals. And they still gig as relentlessly as ever, pumping out a groove that can keep you dancing all the way back to the B train.

-- Brett Milano

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