Album: 99 Songs of Revolution
Comments: For a minute there, Streetlight Manifesto was poised to become the one ring of ska bands. One horn to rule them all, one horn to bind them.
The Sauron, the dark master of this strained metaphor, is Tomas Kalnoky, band leader and brainchild of both Streetlight and Catch 22 before them. After the success of the group's super-tight 2003 debut Everything Goes Numb, an album that succeeds with no small thanks to Kalnoky's songwriting and flair for punk-ish arrangements, the group developed a cult-like following who was chomping at the bit to buy whatever ska-morsels the band saw fit to throw their way.
Then things...got weird. Like, totally bat shit weird.
Three years after Numb, the band opted to release a remake of Keaseby Nights, Kalnoky's other ska classic with Catch 22, enleau of a new album. The group eventually got around to putting out a proper followup in a year later, the diminishing-returns-factory of Somewhere In Between, a record that sounded just like their first one in all the wrong ways.
Now, after baffling moves and unreasonable delays, the few faithful have been rewarded with...an album of ska covers! Woo.
If nothing else, 99 Songs of Revolution proves what many suspected after the band re-released Keasby Nights: Kalnoky is out of ideas. Creatively, the man has been treading the same ground since 2003, and putting out an album of covers isn't going to do much to reverse that perspective.
As far as the album goes, it's exactly what one would expect: fucking ska covers of popular songs. There's a Radiohead cover (now with horns!) and a Paul Simon cover (now with more horns!) and a Postal Service cover (with, you guess it, horns!). Truth be told, the cover of "Such Great Heights" is pretty good, if only to hear the band replicate the frantic opening techno notes with brass instruments. Otherwise, this album is a wash.
I mean, if you were waiting for a band like Streetlight Manifesto, a band totally capable of putting out classics, to get back to the business of making rock music, would you give a shit about their cover of "Punk Rock Girl?" Of course not. You'd put on Everything Goes Numb and imagine they broke up immediatly after its release. It would have been a much more graceful way to go.
Key Tracks: Punk Rock Girl
Buy, Steal, Skip: Skip
I'm not linking to the covers. Let's pretend it's 2003.