Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Comeback seen ‘In Between’

On their second album Somewhere in Between, Streetlight Manifesto combines volatile melodies,
boisterous guitar riffs and heavy emphasis on the horn section to produce an
album where each song is just as brilliant as the one before. Though the band's
roots lie in ska and punk, Somewhere in Between also includes elements of jazz, reggae and world
music, providing a truly unique harmonious amalgamation.

Streetlight Manifesto is a seven-piece ska band hailing from
New Jersey. Formed in 2002, the group signed with Victory Records and quickly
began touring. After surviving several lineup changes, the band is currently
formed by Tom Kalnoky on vocals and guitar, drummer Chris Thatcher, bassist
Peter McCullough, saxophonists Jim Conti and Michael Brown, Mike Soprano on the
trombone and Matthew Stewart on the trumpet.

Labeled as a third-wave ska group (think Reel Big Fish, Less
Than Jake and early No Doubt), Streetlight Manifesto is one of a small few
bands to achieve success in their genre without compromising their musical
integrity; their need to push boundaries and refusal to conform continues to
set them apart.

More conservative music fans may take issue with their
shout-singing and rowdy gang vocals, but miss that Steetlight can harmonize
while screaming. Each layer of sound shows Streetlight's dedication to crafting
an album intimately and organically.

Somewhere in Between also
showcases the band's lyrical maturity. While they still sing about drinking and
fighting, the majority of lyrics are far more contemplative. This is a band that
ponders the meaning of life and has a damn good time doing it.

The album opens with "We Will Fall Together," the song featured
in their first official music video, a story of life on the high seas.
Interestingly, the entire album is peppered with lyrics about "this sinking
ship," and it is unclear whether this refers to the deteriorating state of
political affairs or the current popularity of the "Pirates of the Caribbean"


Like many Streetlight songs, "Down, Down, Down To Mephisto's
Cafe" starts off slow and quickly picks up the pace. It has a reggae feel and
features an accented offbeat in the horn section.  Furthermore, its lyrics show the group's rejection of
societal norms, such as "I'd rather see in shades of gray," banal as they may

Influences of world music begin to appear with
Eastern-sounding riffs on "Would You Be Impressed?," a melancholic song about
responsibility. "Watch It Crash," one of the best songs on the album, starts
with a symphony of crashing guitars. Accented offbeats and some syncopation
create a sort of musical chaos that echoes the song's theme about the reckless
nature of war.

The second half of Somewhere in Between shows more of the band's roots in third-wave ska,
with lighter melodies and reggae grooves. The album's title track emphasizes
the genre's jazz aspect with a conversation between trombone and saxophone.
However, this short breakdown promptly dissolves into a riotous punk song, as
if the band really wanted to write a slow song, but couldn't.

The trumpet-driven "The Blonde Lead The Blind" is the most
dance-like track on the album. Next, two of the album's better songs, "The
Receiving End of It All" and "What A Wicked Gang Are We," finish the collection
off with a bang.

Despite Somewhere in Between's decidedly negative political undertones, its whirling melodies still
manage to sound almost violently happy. Whether or not it was the band's
intention, these are dance-inducing tunes. With their devil-may-care attitude
toward genre definitions, Streetlight Manifesto has created a relatable, fun
and thought-provoking record sure to please fans of many genres.

4 1/2 stars out of 5

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