Published in Drum Media (WA) | 06.06.13 | Issue # 341
The Hands That Thieve
Those with their finger on the pulse of ska punk had to push through a painstaking number of release date changes for the latest Streetlight Manifesto record, but with most songs on The Hands The Thieve racking up a running time of five minutes plus, there’s plenty of music to fill withdrawal symptoms.
The record does, however, feel a bit too musically orientated. The extended arrangements would be perfectly suited to a live format. On the other hand, when you’ve got such a strong horn section, why not squeeze ever last inch of talent out of it.
It’s not a matter of quantity versus quality, because every second of each song is pumped full of schizophrenic energy, it’s just after three or so minutes you find yourself quite aware that the song is still powering through.
Oh Me, Oh My – the only song coming in under four minutes – is streamlined for radio with its perfectly placed whoas, group vocals and generic song structure, which is out of character for Streetlight. Maybe they needed one generic pop tune to satisfy their label.
Since their formation, frontman Tom Kalnoky and co have been locked into an unhealthy contract with Victory Records – a commitment they have made their feelings on widely known (“Victory Records is an artist-hostile, morally corrupt and generally dishonest company,” they said last year). While the strain of their relationship comes through on this record from time to time, it hasn’t put a permanent downer on their progress.
Glass Bead Music
On past releases Joshua Radin has struggled to find a balance between upbeat, feel-good tunes and stripped-back, melody-driven acoustic numbers. 2006’s We Were Here placed its emphasis on whisper-like vocals resting on the frail skeleton of a faint acoustic guitar, while 2008’s Simple Times saw him pick up the pace and introduce female backing vocalist Patty Griffin.
His trademark whispering vocals restricted variety on We Were Here, and the novelty of Griffin was a little too overpowering on Simple Times. Both are great records, but had their direction set by certain elements that stunted anything really groundbreaking. Before writing Wax Wings, it seems Radin took the time to analyze his career to date in order to map out the perfect record.
He is one of few vocalists who can sing through a whisper and maintain a solid melody that doesn’t feel forced. It’s his unique way of singing that separates him from others attempting to take over the world with an acoustic guitar. On his latest effort, he still keeps his voice to a husky whisper most of the time, but allows himself to break free from it every now and then. Griffin also makes an appearance, but her voice sits firmly in the background.
Track two, When We’re Together, is classic Radin. The kind of song you’d expect to hear at the end of a romantic comedy, while Lovely Tonight mimics that of his Scrubs’ single, Closer.
To truly appreciate this record, it’s preferable to have knowledge of his back catalogue, but if you’re new to Radin, this album is a great introduction.
Usually this kind of post would find itself on my music website (dancribb.com), but I’m beyond excited to announce that this October I will be playing bass and touring Australia with David Liebe Hart (Official) Band! Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! fans will know how awesome this tour is going to be. Even more stoked that Harry El Bateristawill be playing drums. This is going to be unreal! For more info and tickets head to the event page –https://www.facebook.com/events/250338091775864/