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Somewhere In the Between

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Album Review

Although Somewhere in the Between is the third full-length release by Streetlight Manifesto, longtime fans are more likely to view it as the band's sophomore effort. 2006's Keasbey Nights was, for all intents and purposes, a refurbished replica of the Catch-22 album by the same name, complete with the same vocalist and few (if any) musical changes. This makes Somewhere in the Between the band's first effort of all-original material in nearly five years, and Streetlight Manifesto is no longer the fresh-faced group that once rose from Catch-22's ska/punk ashes. They've spent a half-decade on the road, touring with ska stalwarts like Reel Big Fish while weathering lineup changes and several robberies of their equipment-filled van. Losing treasured bandmates and expensive instruments would dampen anyone's spirits, and Streetlight Manifesto does sound a bit less reckless here, but not at the expense of the group's peppy ska/punk appeal. While 2003's Everything Goes Numb saw vocalist Tomas Kalnoky rushing through his lines, cramming them chock-full of syllables and raspy melodies, Somewhere in the Between shows him improving as a lyricist and vocalist. The rasp is still there, but so is a focused tone that we haven't heard before, particularly during the subdued intro to "Down, Down, Down to Mephisto's Café." Despite his improved vocals, Kalnoky remains the most punked-out member of the band, whose other members play their horn lines and guitar chords with crisp, bright precision. It's this balanced relationship — clear orchestration and jaunty tempos paired with rasped melodies about the macabre ("Would You Be Impressed"), war ("Watch It Crash"), and sin ("Forty Days") — that ultimately governs the album, and even if Somewhere in the Between can't match the raucous nature of the band's debut, it's nevertheless a catchy follow-up.

Biography

Formed: 2002 in New Brunswick, NJ

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The New Jersey ska-punk outfit Streetlight Manifesto grew out of two similar late-'90s groups from the region, One Cool Guy and Catch-22. Delivering a brassy, upbeat brand of third wave ska — complete with punk-styled melodies courtesy of vocalist Tomas Kalnoky — the band made its debut in 2003 with Everything Goes Numb. Two years of touring followed as Streetlight Manifesto played countless shows alongside Whole Wheat Bread, Mu330, Bedouin Soundclash, and Gym Class Heroes. However, personnel...
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