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Keasbey Nights

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Album Review

"There is absolutely no way of explaining the existence of the record you now hold in your hands without somehow offending, infuriating, confusing or alienating certain parties, so we won't even try. Please enjoy this for what it is." Such is the opening paragraph that awaits inquiring minds inside the notes for Keasbey Nights — the version "as performed by Streetlight Manifesto," that is. Ska revival fans of the late '90s will recognize the title immediately as the name of the 1998 debut full-length from the influential New Jersey ska outfit Catch 22. Tomas Kalnoky, Streetlight's raspy lead singer, was a founding member of Catch 22, responsible for writing and singing on the original Keasbey Nights before leaving the band for the realms of higher education. Songs from the album were arguably never the same when performed live without his distinctive voice. Well, now Kalnoky is back with a new band, Streetlight Manifesto, and though they produce pretty damn enjoyable ska-punk on their own terms (check out their 2003 debut, Everything Goes Numb), for their second Victory release the band is reaching into the archives. It's Keasbey Nights, Part Deux. Rumors of this possible release had been circulating among the ska world for quite a while as its street date kept getting pushed back, and speculation was high as to the exact motivation behind re-recording the album in its entirety. After all, there's no new material; it's the same album. And even though the new version is technically by a different band, it's still the same singer. So why? Fortunately, a little light is shed at the end of the last track. Amid distracting background music, distorted electronic voices conduct a barely audible interview as to the motivations behind the album. It seems that not only was Kalnoky never satisfied with the original recording, but they also wanted to prevent the album's possible re-release in the annoying record label fashion of being untouched, save new artwork and a bonus track or two. (At least that's what the reasons might have been; try deciphering the electronic mess yourself.) Lacking the energy or desire to pick both albums apart and compare song by song, you shall instead be left with these thoughts. Ardent fans of the original Keasbey Nights will notice better (but not overbearing) production, some changes in lyrics and horn arrangements, and a very slight smoothing of Kalnoky's voice with age. Consequently, the overall tone of the Streetlight version comes off a bit smoother and lacking some of the raw, youthful energy that made the original album such a cult classic. Purist lovers of the first Keasbey Nights will probably be turned off at the somewhat cleaner and altered version of the record, looking at version 2.0 as the unnecessary altering of a masterpiece. Others though won't see a glaring difference between both albums, enjoying the re-recording as much as the original; after all, it is a great record. As the mock interview reveals, it's ultimately up to the fans whether or not they see a need to buy the 2006 version. Either way, Streetlight Manifesto stands by its version, and as the liner notes implore, hopes you can just enjoy the album for what it is.

Customer Reviews


Had to buy it.. Again! Used to have it but lost the cd ages ago. Still a favorite album of mine.

A Must Have Ska Album

This is a special album, not many cd's can appeal to listeners of multiple genres, in this case; punk, jazz, metal, rock, and of course ska fans. This bridging of genres is what makes this a must have album and possibly the greatest album of the third wave ska movement. The albums kicks off with an exceptional energy that delivers the teenage reality of life. The album's shifts of heavy punk riffs, to big band horn parts add up to something special. The very jazzy "Kristina She Don't Know I Exist" will appeal to any jazz listener immediately with its improvised sounding solo section and deep lyrics. "Dear Sergio" and "Keasbey Nights" are ska anthems that any "rude boy" or listener to third wave music will enjoy with their memorable horn parts. The album has a very distinct sound that separates this band from any other genre out there. A must have and much more raw and uncut sound than by its replica by Streetlight Manifesto.

This is it

This is pretty much it. This is 90's ska. It's done to absolute perfection on this record. By far outlasting any early Less Than Jake, Slapstick, Reel Big Fish, you name it as far as ska revival goes and this is the holy grail. Front to back a perfect album. Figures these boys are from New Jersey.


Formed: 1996 in New Jersey

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

New Jersey ska-punk combo Catch 22 were formed in the autumn of 1996 by singer/guitarist Tomas Kalnoky, trumpeter Kevin Gunther, and drummer Chris Greer. Recruiting bassist Pat Calpin, trombonist Jamie Egan, and saxophonist Ryan Eldred, the group spent the next two years touring relentlessly, selling out all 2,000 copies of its self-released demo, Rules of the Game. Signing to Victory Records in late 1997, Catch 22 issued Keasbey Nights the following year, quickly becoming one of the best-selling...
Full Bio
Keasbey Nights, Catch 22
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