Anyone who ever discounted Punk Music as a bunch of no-talent noise makers, is in for a big surprise. Any Punk fans who relish the noise and the hard edge, are also in for a big surprise.
Toh Kay, known to his parents as Tomas Kalnoky, frontman for Streetlight Manifesto, the New Jersey based punk icons, writes beautiful melodies and poignant lyrics. Here, in Streetlight Lullabies he presents them much as he composes them. Toh Kay writes the band's songs on an acoustic guitar and then fleshes out the song structure on the computer and hums basic horn-lines. This album features 10 Streetlight Manifesto songs stripped down to their acoustic bones, offering a rare
glimpse into Toh Kay's creative process.
The album features sparse, personal arrangements of “We Will Fall Together” “Watch it Crash”, “The Big Sleep” and “A Better Place, A Better Time” among others. Kay’s lyrics are folksy, influenced by Ska, and in places almost sound classical. Kalnoky said he learned to play guitar because of influence from The Beatles and a lot of his arrangements with the full band show that 50s/60s influence but here it wouldn’t be to much of a stretch to draw parallels with solo Paul Simon and other folk icons of the 60s.
Toh, a Czech native, who immigrated to the U.S. with his family at the age of five, tells the story of getting caught by his older brother playing with his father Nikon Camera. He thought his father would at least scold him, but his father taught him a different lesson that day. His father said, “The camera is a thing.”, he said. it is a tool that you have to take out of the box and expose to danger in order to create something. What you create with it has the true value, not the thing itself. It’s just a camera in a box without you.”
“Everything we use to create, as artists and musicians, from computers to instruments to cameras to plain old paper and pencils, they’re all just tools,” Toh explains, “dispensable objects that we shouldn’t focus too much thought and energy on, lest we lose sight of the significance of what we can do WITH these tools. That’s the good stuff.”
And the good stuff from Toh Kay is marvelously melodic songs that are relevant to today. To the emotions of how we react with love, life and everyday injustices. That said, Toh Kay uses his ‘tools’ rather well. For instance, the photo on the cover of this CD was taken with that same Nikon camera on the streets of Prague.
Give this one a listen, and I am sure you’ll agree. Pentimento Music, who provided this CD for the review, brings together many musicians with this same attitude, and it’s rather refreshing.
Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved