Streetlight Manifesto (music review)

There are a lot of different reasons somebody might like a certain kind of music. Maybe it’s the catchy tunes, the cool singer, or the crazy guitarist. Streetlight Manifesto is a very unique genre of music called Ska. Ska is different because it uses brass instruments, and in Streetlight Manifesto’s case, a few saxophones. Ska is sort of a mix between reggae and jazz but really fast and upbeat.

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Despite having a large brass section (plus several saxophones), Streetlight Manifesto possesses the traditional guitar, bass guitar, and drums. All of the seven band members sing back up on the choruses. A classic ska song would be “Walking Away” complete with solos from trombone, trumpet and bass guitar. But the lead singer/guitarist Thomas Kolnoky is probably the most important member.

Thomas Kolnoky writes all the songs, usually incorporating his own past. An example is when he was in a band called Catch-22, who he wrote songs for. After he left that band, they kept playing his songs, and in the song “A moment of Silence” by Streetlight Manifesto he sings the phrase “if you hate me so much then stop singing my songs!” which everybody assumes to be directed at Catch-22. After a few years the two bands resolved their problems, and that line has been eliminated from the song when they play it live. Despite the upbeat tunes, a lot of the lyrics are kind of depressing. In the song “Here’s to Life”, they sing about Ernest Hemmingway’s suicide. Other examples of more serious songs are “As the Footsteps Die Out Forever”, “The Big Sleep” and “Point/Counterpoint”

Streetlight Manifesto is one of my favorite bands because of the uniqueness of the music they play, even compared to other ska bands. Streetlight Manifesto uses dissonant chords once in a while, which adds more meaning to some of their songs by making it seem like more of a clash. Also, their music uses the off-beats more than the down-beats. They combine all these different characteristics with trombones, trumpets, and saxophones; which is a uniqueness all its own.

The reason I love Streetlight Manifesto is because of how different it is from almost any other kind of music. That should be enough for anybody to at least check them out.