Streetlight Manifesto - 99 Songs of Revolution (Cover Artwork)

Streetlight Manifesto

Streetlight Manifesto: 99 Songs of Revolution99 Songs of Revolution (2010)
Victory Records

Reviewer Rating: 3
User Rating:

Contributed by: skaboomskaboom
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Streetlight Manifesto has, once again, affirmed their status as the single most annoying ska band to ever exist. This is an impressive feat, considering their competition. Some bands, like Reel Big Fish, had one good album a decade and a half ago (and that album didn't even age well), yet continu.
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Streetlight Manifesto has, once again, affirmed their status as the single most annoying ska band to ever exist.

This is an impressive feat, considering their competition. Some bands, like Reel Big Fish, had one good album a decade and a half ago (and that album didn't even age well), yet continue to churn out a steady stream of barely listenable garbage. Others unceremoniously dump their horn sections between albums, and unsuspecting fans buy their new CD to find out they've turned into mediocre hardcore punk bands (Against All Authority), mediocre synth-pop bands (the Aquabats), or abominable boy-band look-alikes with matching outfits and choreographed stage moves (doesn't even deserve the obvious name-drop). Then there's every high school ska band ever, formed solely because there were an overabundance of marching band geeks who desperately wanted to be in a real band, but all they could play was the sax.

So why is Streetlight Manifesto the target of today's ire? Because they're in the very, very small minority of ska bands that do the genre justice, that write and play well, and should be out there creating new music. Yet despite Tomas Kalnoky & co. claiming that a dozen or so musical projects are going on at any given moment, they are the least prolific group that has ever had a horn section. When they do release new music, it oftentimes barely even qualifies as "new." 99 Songs of Revolution, Volume 1, is Streetlight Manifesto's fourth studio release, and their second album consisting entirely of cover songs. For the mathematically impaired, that means exactly half of their albums are cover albums and, as there are going to be approximately eight "99SOR" albums in total (estimated date of completion: 2087), that ratio of new music:covers may only skew further. But enough whining, onto the music.

About half of these songs are punk staples, some of which fans may have heard during past tours. Most of the bands covered utilize a guitar/bass/drums setup, so the horns aren't as prominent or intricate as they are in Streetlight's original songs. They do add some extra instrumentation to varying amounts of success. The violin in "Linoleum" is beautiful and adds a somber tone to the NOFX standard. Conversely, the horns in "Punk Rock Girl" (the Dead Milkmen) do very little besides highlight the fact that Streetlight plays everything very fast, all the time. Kalnoky admits his arrogance in covering his own song in the liner notes to the Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution song "They Provide the Paint," which sounds (unsurprisingly) very much like the original, if a touch faster. He must have forgotten how he already covered "Here's to Life," a BOTAR original, on Streetlight's Everything Goes Numb. Or how that BOTAR EP contains Catch-22's "Dear Sergio." Or how he already covered an entire album of his own songs with the re-recording of Keasbey Nights. Anyway...

More interesting are the covers culled from beyond the world of punk rock. Streetlight's take on folk (there are two Paul Simon-penned songs on here) and especially blues (Louis Jordan's "The Troubadour") inspired me to take a closer look at the original artists, which may or may not be a compliment to the artist who covered them. While I was hesitant about hearing the Postal Service song reworked, the highly competent horn section does an amazing job of recreating the synths so vital to "Such Great Heights." Radiohead gets covered a lot for some reason, even though I have yet to hear another singer emulate Thom Yorke effectively. After listening to "Just," I still haven't, although the rest of the band is in top form.

I'd say about eight of the covers are fun and worthwhile, while three (especially the BOTAR cover) are superfluous. When this project was announced (sometime back in the early 1990s, if I remember correctly), I thought 99 songs was over the top, that there was no way they could have 99 songs worth covering. Turns out, they don't. They probably decided that "73 Songs of Revolution" didn't have the same ring to it as 99, so they just tacked on a couple dozen incomplete ideas. Or maybe they wanted to leave room in case they decided to re-re-re-record some of their older songs. In either case, considering your average cover record has one or two good songs on it, 8/11 ain't bad, but I (and most other Streetlight fans, I'd wager) are still waiting for the next album of original material.


People who liked this also liked:
Streetlight Manifesto - Somewhere in the BetweenStreetlight Manifesto - Everything Goes NumbAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Lawrence Arms - Buttsweat and Tears [7 inch]Cobra Skulls - American RubiconA Wilhelm Scream - RuinerThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Clash - London CallingThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundThe Gaslight Anthem - American Slang

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
DouzePleursMGC (March 15, 2014)

you mention that 99 songs is a weak entry compared to the others and i kind of agree, though i don't think its the worst. the order in which i place them in my order of favoritism would be: Keasbey nights (it just seems to have the least energy in it though not saying that its bad, because it is good, just probably my least favorite), then 99 songs, somewhere in the between, and my favorite is tied between their first album and their most recent album (being everything goes numb and the hands that thieve respectively) i do believe they are all good though the bottom two in my opinion aren't quite as good as the others and somewhere in the between is literally as it's name suggests, inbetween everything. this album has its strong points and is a fairly decent album and i'll give it credit for some of the songs it does well. i would saymaybe a 7.5-8/10 for me

serialkeller (May 4, 2013)

but for real, what the hell happened to suburban legends?
that is the "abominable boy-band look-alikes with matching outfits and choreographed stage moves" right?

mrdogg45 (September 22, 2010)

Look, I know how easy it is to be an asshole over the internet and I understand that the last thing anyone needs is another vague, negative, uniformed opinion.

That being said, this album sucks all the dicks for two reasons: the majority of the covers are by-the-numbers and will only entertain as long as the "ska-cover" novelty lasts, and its one more useless release from a band notorious for spinning its wheels.

All the dicks.

patod (July 11, 2010)

Great album, Greater band.

crayZsaaron (June 23, 2010)

I actually enjoy this album a lot. I have never said that about any album with lots of covers on it.

kellenmacklin (April 12, 2010)

I bought this, and I really like Linoleum and Just. Me and Julio and Such Great Heights are all right, and the rest is disappointing. The Linoleum cover is pretty much worth it for me, though.

JKyle (April 11, 2010)

Pretty accurate review. I love the violin in "Linoleum," and "Me and Julio..." is fantastic all around, but mostly this album left me with a feeling of, "Is this it?"

LeightonESmith (April 11, 2010)

8/11 should have a higher score than 3 stars.

glebbo (April 11, 2010)

8 times 9 is 72 not 73

teaessare (April 10, 2010)

This is a great review. I don't think I could possibly agree more.

sumwon (April 10, 2010)

This is awful. Before it came out, I burnt a copy and listened to it once on my 5 disc CD changer. A few days ago, after listening to something else, the CD changer put this on afterwards and I jumped up to turn it off as soon as possible. I didn't want to hear a fucking second of it.

eran_zombis (April 10, 2010)

Yup. AAA's Restoration of Chaos and Order was bad.

TSOL (April 10, 2010)

Put out something original. Agree with this review.

kellenmacklin (April 10, 2010)

This band is wicked talented. I wasn't into Keasbey Nights, because I loved that album when I was sixteen, and it's weird to have it all reworked and polished, but I love both of this band's proper albums. I will probably buy this. Probably today. And I will get made fun of for still liking a couple ska bands.

telegraphrocks (April 10, 2010)

""why the hell don't they play Hey Ska anymore?"

The Suicide Machines old label (Hollywood, I think) asked them to stop playing it because the label owned the copyright. Or something like that."

Are you fucking serious?!?!?!?!?! That is the ONLY cover I was actually looking forward to, and was hoping would surface on one of the upcoming volumes.

Fuck that label!

BluthCo (April 9, 2010)

"why the hell don't they play Hey Ska anymore?"

The Suicide Machines old label (Hollywood, I think) asked them to stop playing it because the label owned the copyright. Or something like that.

FaithIsForFools (April 9, 2010)

This shit is such a fucking waste of talent. Really, you're just gonna cover a bunch of songs that (mostly) sucked in the first place?

For what they did, I guess they did well.... but their original intent is wasteful for what could have been a new full-length of original material, which would also probably not have such stupid fucking songs on it.


TwoandFour (April 9, 2010)

The album itself, as far as cover albums go anyways, is solid. There's little here that will make someone want to go out and buy the thing, but with the right expectations it's a good listen.

We do need some original material though.
I can sort of empathize with Tomas, as I tend to be extremely hesitant in calling anything I do finished, much less offering it up for peer consumption (I'm not in music though, so maybe it's different).

punkguy83 (April 9, 2010)

not gonna waste my money on this. good review.

xfallenx (April 9, 2010)

why the hell don't they play Hey Ska anymore?

notfeelingcreative (April 9, 2010)

"Cant believe he slagged off AAA Amazing band!!! Streetlight are overrated!"

I believe the point was that AAA, in their later albums, gave up the ska sound, which is a valid point. I liked '24 hour roadside resistance" but it didn't compare to 'all fall down' or 'destroy what destroys you".

quickattack (April 9, 2010)

This album is alright, but it pisses me off. I want new material, though I dont think that will happen anytime soon.

baseball (April 9, 2010)

I'm having a hard time thinking of a ska band other than the Slackers who are still putting out great music. I really don't need anything besides Everything Goes Numb from this band.

Thegimper (April 9, 2010)

Reviews just make me sad.

It would have been nice though if the reviewer had read the liner notes of the album where Tomas goes over why he chose to cover each song. Because you know insight's never a bad thing.

ZappBrannigan (April 9, 2010)

My understanding is that Tomas rerecorded Keasbey Nights because Victory just wanted to rerelease it as it was (with rumors of a bonus track or music video tacked on) and get kids to spend money on the same album. Instead, Tomas offered to rerecord it now that he had time to focus on it and was working with a more proficient band. He fleshed it out and made it the album he meant for it to be in the first place, and I'm pretty sure it was all on his own dime. So Victory records sucks, Tomas Kalnoky appreciates his fans and is excruciatingly devoted to his work.

Also, as pointed out a million times, the cover albums are a contract-finishing move. And at least the covers are good. I've only heard a handful of the originals, but from what I can tell they did a great job of making these songs their own. I'm sick of covers that sound like poor imitations of the originals.
Not as great as an original Streetlight album, but if you go into with cover-album expectations, it's pretty darn good.

Oh, and they also covered Supernothing from Tomas' first band on Keasbey Nights.

cherrycolarain (April 9, 2010)

I really don't get all the hate Streetlight Manifesto is getting, as far as ska goes, they're the cream of the crop.

skankbook (April 9, 2010)

Good review, pretty much sums up my opinion of them at this point. Bad Astronaut did the "slow down Linoleum" thing years ago, though, which ruined it here for me.

piata (April 9, 2010)

I like a couple of the covers but I really wish they'd do some original material.

welcome_to_1984 (April 9, 2010)

I thought all the reasoning for Streetlight releasing this album was covered in a previous thread? Check the box, get out of contract, release album of original songs. PROFIT

Alien (April 9, 2010)

I really just want some new music. ThAt would be much better than these covers. The stuff between them and victory was pretty funny though.

red_eye_inc (April 9, 2010)

what a waste of time and a "fuck you" to their fans

zero stars

LoveShackBaby (April 9, 2010)

I for one think Suburban Legends are a pretty fun live band. Hey DJ and Bright Spring Morning require a heart of stone not to love.

Wyld_stallyns_rule (April 9, 2010)

I'm still perplexed as to why they chose a Mason Jennings song, let alone a song off his second album, which saw no great release outside of Minnesota. If only they would have covered 'Duluth' off of Birds Flying Away.

punker001 (April 9, 2010)

Cant believe he slagged off AAA Amazing band!!! Streetlight are overrated!

MN_DrNick (April 9, 2010)

It's... meh. There seems to be a need for bands that are labeled ska to have some sort of cover album or EP. I think the only track I truly enjoy is "Punk Rock Girl".

TahoeJeff (April 9, 2010)

THe Ska turned boy band was Suburban Legends, but truth be told they were always pretty over the top. They were like a wanna-be RBF, except with choreographed dance moves.

evildeadalive (April 9, 2010)

Who's the ska band turned boy band?

Coons (April 9, 2010)

You started the review saying Streetlight is the most annoying ska band ever, and then at the end you said you were a streetlight fan and you're waiting for their next album.


usversusthem (April 9, 2010)

I thought this was a pretty decent, if not particularly memorable release. It's frustrating because their original stuff can achieve, well, such great heights, but damn if it isn't pleasant to listen to nonetheless. That said, maybe it's just the source material, but "Punk Rock Girl" was pretty unlistenable, and "The Troubador" and "Red Rubber Ball" weren't much better.

mike_b (April 9, 2010)

It's a good thing the reviewer didn't have any bias heading into this...

Although I really don't care for this album either. Why does he not like to write music?

TraumaSponge (April 9, 2010)

Skyscraper cover is awful.

Aquabats are still great.

TahoeJeff (April 9, 2010)

Reel Big Fish has put out exactly 3 good albums: Turn the Radio Off, Why Do They Rock So Hard, and Cheer Up. The rest is pretty forgettable.

Streetlight is interesting. I really love Everything Goes numb, but I haven't really listened to them much after that.

ashtraymonument (April 9, 2010)

i was actually surprised they didn't cover "Creep" they used to cover it live quite a bit (usually in between A moment of silence/violence)

ohcomely (April 9, 2010)

Expect the next album of original material in 2025, seeing as this is a 4 volume project.

Skibz777 (April 9, 2010)

As a "ska band" - or rather "what-passes-for-ska-in-the-mainstream-simply-because-it's-fast- and-has-horns band" - Streetlight Manifesto piss me the fuck off, but I have to admit, when they bust out the jazz, blues and folk influences, they're actually quite good. I'd like to see them abandon the label of "ska punk" and start experimenting more with genre eclecticism, like the punk rock version of Squirrel Nut Zippers. They're certainly good musicians, and I hope this marks the start of an evolution in their career.

TheViz (April 9, 2010)

I had no expectations for this album. Honestly, I thought it was a pleasant surprise. I mean, I'd much rather have a new original album, but this is an alright listen.

thewayitshouldbe (April 9, 2010)

Album is pretty bland.

hayman (April 9, 2010)

I think this album is a cop out. A band of this quality should not waste its time with cover albums. Even if it is to fulfill the Victory contract it still sucks. Streetlights next album had better be good to make up for this.

SpAgetttt (April 9, 2010)

this is outrageous

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