I started this site because of my love for music, both playing it and listening to it. This site is meant to be a music review site, but in the future, it may expand beyond that. We'll see how it goes.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Album Review: Streetlight Manifesto - Somewhere In The Between

Genre: Ska (sort of) Released: November, 2007

It's been over four years since Streetlight Manifesto's first (and only) original album was released; they've re-released Keasbey Nights, but that wasn't anything new. But their long-awaited new album is finally here... unofficially. It's set to be release in the second week of November, but you can find it if you know where to look.

I wouldn't describe Streetlight as ska, really. At least, it's not typical ska like Less than Jake. Some songs, perhaps. If you haven't listened to them before, I strongly suggest it; they've been one of my favorite bands ever since I first listened to them.

Their debut album, Everything Goes Numb, was simply amazing; definitely a hard album to top. And while this new album takes some getting used to, it's really very good.

1. We Will Fall Together - A great opening song. It starts with a Latin-sounding horn intro, and then follows with some trombone and trumpet solos to kick things off. The verse is fairly dark sounding, but the chorus brightens things up as the rhythm and singing slow down. A jazzy sax solo breaks the song into two distinct sections; the singing style seems to briefly change afterwards. I really like Tomas Kalnoky's markedly raspy voice in the chorus of this song.

2. Down, Down, Down to Mephisto's Cafe - This song was leaked early on a demo CD, and it's been one of my favorites on the CD. It begins with a calm intro, then picks up with the horns and a funky-sounding guitar/bass combo. The verses have some amazing backing vocals that create an interesting harmony with the main vocals. This song really remind me of The Big Sleep from Everything Goes Numb, which by no means is a bad thing. I really like the lyrics in this song:

If I were you, I would take this as a sign. Believe it's true, we were never meant to fly. And I knew you when you were you, before they twisted all your views, before you came unglued.

I always find Tomas's lyrics to be very cleverly written, even poetic much of the time, and this song just reinforces my belief.

3. Would You Be Impressed? - This has been another of my favorites ever since I heard them play it live many months ago (this album has been in production for years; they played some of these songs the first time I saw them in concert). It reminds me of If and When We Rise Again from their last album, with a distinct Russian/Eastern European feel.

4. One Foot on the Gas, One Foot in the Grave - This song stood out for me, because the intro is different from anything else I've heard by Streetlight. The beginning is very soft and slow, but it picks up. I didn't like this one at first, but the more I listen to it, the more I like it.

5. Watch it Crash - This was the other song that leaked early, and I like it a lot. It's a much darker sounding song, and it reminds me of That'll Be the Day. It has quite possibly one of my favorite chord progressions on the album (if anyone cares, at around 0:30, the D-Eb-E progression), and it's little things like that that amaze me when it comes to music.

6. Somewhere in the Between - The album's title song, and probably one of the best. It has a very upbeat feel, almost pirate-y. I find the verses of this song to be very catchy. And the chorus is probably the best on the whole album, and sums up the essence of the album's meaning:

So you were born, and that was a good day. Someday you'll die, and that is a shame. But somewhere in the between was a life of which we all dream. And nothing and no one will ever take that away.

There's a horn solo in the middle which, to me, is very out of place, and that's the only thing that disappoints me about this song. Otherwise, it's amazing. In terms of the whole album, it should have been placed at the end, because like I said, its lyrics sum everything up, and the song's outro sounds like the album is ending (all instruments kind of sustain a note until it fades out).

7. Forty Days - Another song that I didn't like too much at first, but now I really like it. It's another Latin and pirate-sounding song. It's also one of the first songs that Tomas plays what could be considered a guitar solo.

8. The Blonde Lead the Blind - A lot of people don't like this song because they say it's too catchy sounding, but I like it. The horns aren't my favorite, but I really like how Tomas sings this one, especially the verse. I like the backing vocals of the chorus a lot, too.

9. The Receiving End of It All - This one reminds me a little of Everything Went Numb. I haven't listened to this one too much, but I do like it a lot. It has a lot of different sounding sections; the verse, chorus, bridge, etc., all sound very different, so it's a very well-rounded song.

10. What a Wicked Gang Are We - This is currently my favorite song on the album. It also has a very dark sound; it reminds me of Watch it Crash, off this same album. I like the fast-paced style of singing in this one, and I love the lyrics:

Oh! The shame! Humility! What a wicked gang are we! Like a liar looking down on a thief looking down on a killer looking down on a creep, Oh! This sinking ship will only hold its course for just so long. Eventually, that's when they'll see everything is wrong.

It doesn't quite wrap up the album like it should, but by itself, it's a great song.

All in all, I really suggest this album. Maybe I'm biased, but I think every song is amazing. I'm glad Streetlight took the time to polish this one properly. I think it turned out very well, and I definitely look forward to seeing them play this album live whenever they tour around here.