Streetlight Manifesto is a seven-piece American ska punk band from East Brunswick Township, N.J. On Nov. 13, they’ll release their third full length album entitled “Somewhere In The Between,” an album which fuses jazz, big band, punk, ska, hardcore and pop to create one of the best and most original records of the past 10 years. Streetlight Manifesto formed in 2001, then as the Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution. Tomas Kalnoky, a former member of Catch 22 and guitarist/lead vocalist of Streetlight Manifesto, took three years off from music before returning in 2001. He recruited two former members of Catch 22, Josh Ansley and Jamie Egan and, along with other musicians, they began to play music.
After the Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution released a five-song E.P., Kalnoky’s focus shifted to Streetlight Manifesto. The band released a demo which featured four songs which would later be on the full length. The four-song demo attracted the attention of Victory Records and the band signed with them.
In 2003, Streetlight Manifesto released their first full-length album “Everything Goes Numb.” The full length built on the fast-paced, uptempo style Kalnoky developed while with Catch 22. The full length is packed with complex arrangements and song-structure. At first, the band would only play a few shows, but their popularity continued to increase and the band began to tour full time.
In 2005, the band re-recorded Catch 22’s “Keasby Nights,” an album considered a classic in the “scene.” Kalnoky wrote the entire album. The band didn’t simply re-record the record as written in 1998. Kalnoky rewrote arrangements, lyrics and tried to bring a different life to the record. Two years later, the third wave ska band released their third album.
Streetlight Manifesto combines elements of third wave ska with a vast array of styles. Third wave ska is a style of music which fuses various styles such as Jamaican ska with American and British influences such as punk, rock, hardcore, jazz and big band. Bands such as Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish and Catch 22 helped propel the third wave ska genre. Streetlight Manifesto incorporates all of these diverse sounds and has created a distinguishable sound. They feature a four-piece brass section along with their bassist, guitarist/vocalist and drummer.
On the new record, “Somewhere In The Between,” the familiar complex arrangements, song structure and rapid tempo which comprised “Everything Goes Numb” return. Kalnoky’s signature vocal style also returns. Kalnoky is known for his ultra-paced vocal and rhythmic patterns. He has a talent for jamming many words into a small musical space. Songs such as “We Will Fall Together” and “Would You Be Impressed?” incorporate their European influences.
The title track, “Somewhere In The Between,” showcases the best side of Streetlight Manifesto; a song about living life the best way one can because one day it will be gone.
“The Receiving End Of It All” is almost the history of the band. The song addresses Kalnoky’s departure from Catch 22, the two robberies his band endured, as well as the regrets he has in his life. The song is, perhaps, the most personal in their discography. The rapid song-structure reflects the narrative Kalnoky is singing.
Lyrically, the record deals with questions regarding faith, organized religion, the afterlife, what it means to live and what it means to die. The record is entertaining and thought-provoking. Streetlight Manifesto is a rarity and a breath of fresh air in a music scene full of generic acts.
Fans of jazz, big band, punk rock, pop-punk and hardcore can find enjoyment in the newest album. The band is touring the United States before going overseas.
Chris Monigle is a third-year student majoring in Literature. He can be reached at CM660983@wcupa.edu.