hey if you guys don't mind I want to post any reviews I type up for my magazine on here so here are the first two I typed up
Streetlight Manifesto-Everything Goes Numb
1.Everything Went Numb
2.That’ll Be the Day
5.We Are the Few
6.A Better Place, A Better Time
8.Here’s To Life
9.A Moment Of Silence
10.A Moment Of Violence
11.The Saddest Song
12.The Big Sleep
Lead by ex-Catch 22 lead vocalist and guitarist Tomas Kalnoky, this is Streetlight Manifesto's debue full length on Victory Records. The rest of the six person lineup hail from either One Cool Guy or from Catch 22. So it isn't really a surprise that this album sounds like a follow up to Keasby Nights.
The Horn Work: Not surprising from ex-One Cool Guy guys but still impressive. Not that the indivitual horn parts are particularly good, but they way they are combined makes for great melody.
The Lyrics: Thomas doesn't take any queues from Ezra Pounds. If he wants to say something he says it. He fits one hell of a lot of lyrics into a song and he gets them to sound great, and managing to give a fairly clear message in the process, which is a step up from his Keasby Nights days.
The Anthems: It feels like every song has a great memorable sing along line. Though it doesn't really matter. Go to one of their shows and you will find most of the people singing along to every word.
The Guitar Work: The guitar fits most places, but is never very complicated or original. Not a big con though because it does fit.
The Vocals: I love the vocals but I know they aren't for everyone. They are raspy and out of tune at times. But you don't need the best of voices to sing at these speeds. It does fit the music and the backup vocals I have no complaint with
Repetition: With great anthems come great repetition. Because of the strength of the anthems, you don't notice how repetitive some of the songs are until you listen to the cd 20 or 30 (or 50 ) times. Its worst in The Saddest song and probably best in Point Counterpoint.
It starts with a measured horn intro and then the drums break in to draw you into a skapunk mood. The CD doesn't let up for long until track 9, but we will get to that. Everything Went Numb hits you with a combination of melodious horn work and Thomas's breakneck vocal stylings. Throughout the album his speed and flow rivals many rap artists.
Then we move through a harder song on tack 2. This song may be a nod to their label, Victory Records, because it has a very hard intro. This song really shows off the skill of the drummer but is probably one of the weaker songs on the album.
From there it moves into Point Counterpoint, probably the best song on the album.
Point Counterpoint starts with an acoustic guitar and the words Ive Got a Gun in my Hand. This slow intro from a dying character leads to horn and bass driven story about a guy lamenting life and his arguments with a girl. The lyrics sound good but the best part of this song is the arangement which shows how much you can do with such talented musicians.
If and When We rise again is another pleasing melodious anthem song, this time with a slight polka influence. Some of the best individual horn work on the album can be found on this track along with some of the best use of backing vocals, especially when there is a round towards the end.
From here, the cd goes into a somber bass intro with Thomas singing in a reserved pop-punk manner. It threw me off at first but works well with the rest of the song, which is an anti-suicide song. The lyrics are great and this rivals Point/Counterpoint for my favorite song on the album. The pop-punk feel of the song isn't something I expected from the band, but like every style he's tried, Thomas pulls it off very well.
I'm skipping We are the Few and only mentioning Failing, Flailing because it has one of my favorite lyrics of all time (and you say your lifes a bore/ and I cant quite disagree/when you judge your life by the pieces of **** that inhabit your tv). Not to say they are bad in any way but they are good for reasons already mentioned, they have great arrangements, anthematic choruses and breakneck verses.
Here's to Life is a cover of an Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution song. Of course, since Thomas headed that band too... I don't really know if it counts as a cover. It's a ode to his favorite authors whose lives ended a bit to early. It's not a surprise that he brought it over (though I prefer the BOTAR version with a part with a female vocalist) because they song is a great work of melody and lyrics.
After that it is A Moment of Silence/A Moment of Violence which are more or less one song. AMoS is a loser's anthem with Thomas telling losers that he know show they feel (I've never met a loser that I didn't see eye to eye with). It might come off as false humility if you have neer seen pictures of old Catch 22 preformances. Thomas looks like a band geek in those pictures, and I for one am very glad he was.
The pen-ultimate song is The Saddest Song. I can't really say anything about this song that isn't true about the other songs on the album. It's anthematic with great horn interludes and quick, good lyrics.
Wrapping things up is The Big Sleep. It's a war song with some great lyrics about the futility of war and beautiful arrangement.
I know I gave it cons, but they really only show themselves if you really disect the album. There is only one way you can not like this album and that is if you really can't get around his vocals or you are tone deaf. This is an album anyone from Metalheads to Potheads will enjoy. I have yet to meet someone who doesn't like this album.
Streetlight Manifesto-Keasby Nights
1. Dear Sergio
2. Sick and Sad
3. Keasby Nights
4. Day In, Day Out
5. Walking Away
6. Giving Up, Giving In
7. On & On & On
8. Riding the Fourth Wave
9. This One Goes Out to...
11. 3mm and a Three Piece Suit
12. Kristina She Don't Know I Exist
13. As the Footsteps Die Out Forever
14. 1234 1234
Dude, Tomas Kalnoky’s a dIck.
Actually, in most likelihood he’s probably a real nice guy in person and I’m just being a jerk. But I think I do have a point here. Back in 2003, the dude along with the rest of his NJ rag-tag ensemble known as Streetlight Manifesto arguably released one of the best ska albums in years. Everything Goes Numb was damn good. I used to loathe ska with a passion but hearing this (along with Leftover Crack’s *** World Trade) changed my perceptions about the genre. Maybe it’s the lightning-fast precision of the horns, the ridiculously bouncy bassline, or Kalnoky’s God-given penchant for writing real great songs, but one thing was for sure I, like many other people, were hungry for another taste of Streetlight.
So when it was announced that the new album was actually gonna be a rendition of the 1998 Catch-22 classic, Keasby Nights, it was no surprise that more than few eyebrows were raised and a good number of disappointed “What the s!?” were uttered. At that point, it seemed fairly convincing that Kalnoky was part of that same cult that abducted and brainwashed George Lucas and Steven Spielberg into thinking that revamping their old films for the modern age with eye-bleeding special effects was a good idea. Same goes for the countless other bands from the 1960s and 1970s that re-produced their classic albums (Iggy & the Stooges, KISS, David Bowie).
But go figure, Streetlight Manifesto just don’t seem like that kind of band. After all, being on Victory Records—a record label dominated by mopey scenester pseudo-wrist cutters (stereotypes aside)—the band’s music seems just…too happy to be on such a label. Plus, Kalnoky has a beard and a cool hat. Most ska guys don’t. And then again maybe it’s just my own bias telling me that there has to be SOMETHING to reassure me that this album won’t be all that worthless.
Of course, if you’re one of those punk-elitist types, the most pressing question about this release is probably as follows: How does this compare to the Catch 22 original. For the most part, this re-recording is actually alot better in aesthetic terms. As it turns out, the production is richer, the vocals are much clearer and the performances (especially by the horn section) is wayyyyy more precise, sharp and just sounds like more effort went into it. As a result, I’ll say this now: I do not want to spend the bulk of my review talking about how the songs compare to the original, but rather how the songs present themselves in their own light (though I will betray this a few times).
The very first track on Keasby Nights, Dear Sergio pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the album. Though this track is now in its 3rd incarnation (also done by Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution, Kalnoky’s other other band), “Sergio” still sounds as fresh as ever, and you know it?: It actually does sound pretty good. Maybe this album was worth the 15 dollars spent. The horn shots have the extra flare, the bassline is fuller and bouncier than ever, and the vocals are brilliantly scrappy, but clearer. Sick and Sad meanwhile features some brilliant distorted guitar that is more fuzzy than muddy. Most importantly songs like Day In, Day Out with its insanely catchy chorus and horn melodies underscore the incredibly tight and prominent drumming featured on this album, what was hard to establish on the original controlling.
However, most of the songs on Keasby Nights hold their own without any connection to their past. The title track is an insanely catchy melange of rhythmic acoustic guitar, upbeat melodies, and brilliant call-and-response vocals, as well as an even catchier sing-along chorus that seems to evoke Don McClean’s “American Pie”. This song is definitely one of the highlights on the album. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Giving Up, Giving In transfixes a folky little guitar melody into a short raging slab of youthful punk angst in a way that sounds new and refreshing, but at the same time, strangely nostalgic of that late-90s pop-punk that sprouted from the final days of grunge. Think Goldfinger and Lagwagon.
On & On & On meanwhile is another standout track that incorporates some more of those insanely catchy and bouncy ska melodies via brass and puts a melancholy spin on it with bittersweet vocals, gentle acoustic picking in the bride and some brilliant harmonization that gives a fanfare feeling to the song. The song’s last half breaks into a raucous and energetic punk-style thrash-fest, complete with insanely hard and yet tight drumming. The brief instrumental Riding the Fourth Wave has this cool surf/American-folk sort of vibe going on as the saxes, trombone and trumpet parts take their cue and take a couple of bars each to solo over a light rhythm part in a manner that doesn’t seem very ska-ish at all. The same goes for Walking Away which incorporates some heavy jazz elements as evident by the muted trumpet, hi-hat tapping, and extremely bassline. The segue into a traditional ska layout is almost seamless. And then in the bridge, the timbre switches up briefly yet again into a military-style rhythm with rollicking drumbeats and upbeat trumpet lines. Such a blend of different styles as documented by these tracks reveals the original pretensions that would later shape Streetlight Manifesto’s sound. Hearing done by the band itself is just brilliant pure and simple.
However, if one criticism that could be said about this album, its that some of the songs just simply do not hold up to the test of time. Like a pair of pants from 1998 they will simply not fit, no matter how hard you tried. Despite the upbeat melodies and sing-along choruses most of the lyrics are overtly-angsty, leaving one to question how much Nirvana Kalnoky was listening to at the time, not that it’s a particularly bad thing but in this day it seems out of place the band’s actual development. Songs like Supernothing and As the Footsteps Die Out Forever document these moods in a broad manner. Kristina She Don’t Know I Exist meanwhile is just plain cheesy and downright youthfully-misguided where its hard to appreciate, especially knowing that the bad itself is a much older and more mature entity nowadays.
Despite these setbacks, the final track on the album 1234 1234, is the icing on the cake. Its brilliant acoustic strumming, Ben E. King-style vocal harmonies and intense punk thrashing make this song the sonic and emotional tour de force of the album. The lyrics are intelligently bittersweet and introspective in a manner that was rarely seen not only now, but also back in 1998. And if you were wondering “why” the band decided to re-record this album, the last couple of minutes is spent answering those question in a bizarre spoken word style with tight drumming, buoyant basslines and squealing feedback in the background; A fitting end to a certainly interesting album.
In this manner, Kalnoky makes it clear that album was not so much a financial endeavor designed to rip fans of cash as many have speculated, but more a form of personal catharsis in which the band merely “wanted to get it right for once.” The production sounds great, the performances are way better and the overall sonic presentation sounds more coherent. However, it is still the same songs, but as the bare cover art suggests, this album was intended to be reheard and rediscovered in the matter that Kalnoky originally wanted and not merely resold with shiny new art and multimedia extras.
Perhaps it is best stated by Kalnoky at the end of the album “we’re going to keep doing what we do whether or not a single record is sold.” Amen, ‘cause either way it sounds damn good.