CD Review: The City Streets “The Jazz Age”

When I texted a friend of mine to ask  if she had ever heard of The City Streets she replied, “Haha, I listened to them once by accident while searching for The Streets.”  I love being exposed to new acts that come all the way from the Prairies and sing about the tragedies that befall individuals in modern urban spaces, but let’s face it: we have all heard songs about drinking away your sorrows, driving around, and complaining about bourgeois tragedies. Dingy “punk rock bars” are not about “teenage war.” Read the Manifesto. Punk is supposed to be political. See the Dead Kennedys.

When F. Scott Fitzgerald coined the phrase “The Jazz Age” in the roaring twenties, he wasn’t referring to what these guys have in mind. The City Streets are a young band that vacillate freely between the genres of post-punk revival, indie, and emo without an established aesthetic. Their sound is more Vans Warped Tour than Osheaga. The lead singer’s voice and the guitar player’s riffs sound remarkably like fragments of Gaslight Anthem songs, which can go either way. The progressions are often predictable, which makes it ambiguous whether these dudes want to make a statement and challenge convention, or swim in the pool of recycled styles. The singer’s exploration of self-fragmentation, unrequited love, and pain beg the question of authenticity, especially in “Last Waltz Party”.

These guys are amateurs with a promising voice, but need to play with more sounds if they want to survive in the digital download world of blogosphere oligarchy. The lyrical insight that “We’ve all got dark secrets” doesn’t do justice to the complex nature of human alienation. Also, the lyrics just confuse me. He doesn’t smoke, but he has a “light.” Why would you have a light if you don’t smoke? There are worse things in the world than staining a skirt. The harmonies are well executed albeit not avant-garde. Give them time to develop and these guys might one day surprise even the most critical listener.

Rating : 5.2/10

For more The City Streets: http://www.myspace.com/citystreets

3 Comments

  1. You misinterpreted the city streets, the jazz age. I don’t think you actually read much Fitzgerald either. The jazz age occurred in the 20’s of the last century. Compare the dawning awareness and the overall attitudes of the era to your own life living through your twenties and you may begin to understand the lyrical complexities complimented by great music of The City Streets.

  2. Just so you know two of the three songs you referenced aren’t on The Jazz Age. “Dingy punk rock bars” is from Mastodon and “I don’t smoke but I got a light” is from the song Yer Ghost. Both songs appear on their last record ‘Concentrated Living’.

    In fact all three of the songs are on their myspace, did you even listen to their record?

    Fisher.

  3. A repertoire is a repertoire. Whether a song is on myspace, on I-Tunes as a commodity, or performed live to an audience, it is still an art (subject to criticism) that is an allegedly authentic representation of an individual or group’s psychic and emotional state. In addressing songs on other records, I am not turning a blind eye to nuances in “The Jazz Age”, rather exposing a thread in the structure of The City Streets’ songs that carries over from album to album without indicating development. Glad this sparked some conversation though. Difference of opinion, I guess.

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