Skaters - Manhattan
Record Label: Warner Bros.
Release Date: Feb. 25, 2014
If you are as only good as your single, then you better make your single an absolute juggernaut. In the case of New York City post-punkers Skaters, they have not only a powerhouse single but a first-rate debut album, to boot. Said single is “Miss Teen Massachusetts,” a melodic albeit gritty barnstormer that evokes the likes of Oasis, The Strokes (shocking!) and Interpol (another shocker!). While terrestrial radio has shown little imagination for cuts like “Miss Teen Massachusetts” the song will probably have a long shelf life via the blogosphere, social media and satellite radio.
At least that’s the hope.
While its easy to draw comparisons to garage-rockers such as Interpol and The Strokes (see above), the quartet actually seems to have their hands comfortably ensconced in the bluster and swagger of Britpop. Everything about the band’s output successfully marries stylishness and sex appeal with an infectious charisma that emanates from the speakers. From front to back, Manhattan is a powerhouse.
While the band’s rhythm section is indubitably air-tight, most of the credit goes to lead guitarist Josh Hubbard and rising star vocalist Michael Ian Cummings. The best frontmen are the ones who evoke a sense of dissatisfaction, frustration, empathy and nervosa all at the same time. Cummings is just that guy. Whether he’s lamenting the woes of Manhattan (“To Be Young in NYC”) or trying to have a good time (“I Wanna Dance, But I Don’t Know How”) he’s an easy narrator to empathize with and an even harder one to ignore. Even when he’s not at his best (“Schemers), his bandmates push him forward and absolutely smolder the song from the very first note.
What separates Skaters from the rest of the pack is that they know when to hone in on their talents and absolutely refuse to mail it in. Far too many albums are cluttered with forgettable filler and lazy songwriting, Manhattan on the contrary is devoid of both. Its almost as if Skaters set about to write a record that would make bands try harder, leave critics hyperbolic and invite casual fans into their world. That they do it as effortlessly as they do is only a testament to their unyielding potential. Listen to the band channel paranoia and yearning on the skittering and fractious “Deadbolt” and find another band that does it better. Okay, maybe The Vaccines, but who else?
Restless, sun-drenched energy is hard to shake and the Skaters seems to understand that all too well. Try listening to “Bandbreaker” and “Symptomatic” and not roll the windows down and/or ratchet the car up to 90 mph. There isn’t a song on the disc that doesn’t invite hip-shaking, beer-swilling and skirt-chasing. And maybe that’s the point. Contrary to what many think, music doesn’t always have to be SO serious. Sometimes it’s just entertainment. Thank the high heavens, Skaters understand this. Being that the band is so young (they formed in 2011) their is plenty reason to think that given enough time, they could conquer terrestrial radio and beyond. Everything about Manhattan screams stadiums, success and imminent fame.
But is that realistic? Given the quagmire that is contemporary music, there’s probably little chance Skaters can make a sizable dent long term. And that’s an absolute crime. This is as good as any album post-punk/garage rock has produced in quite some time. New York City, you’ve done it again!
Your review convinced me to check this band out and I like what I hear. I don't know where you find some these bands and I appreciate you churning out all these reviews. As for the CD I haven't listened to the whole thing but if the songs are anything like Miss Teen Massachusetts or Deadbolt, I bet it's a fantastic CD. Definitely a good sound.
A few reviews I have read didn't like the song "Schemers", that's my favorite song on the album ha ha. When I first listened to it I thought it was an ok album with a shit ton of filler, but then I listened to it a few more times and the songs I didn't like grew on me. I still don't care for "Band Breaker" or "Nice Hat" though, those are the only 2 songs I don't care for. Overall it's a good catchy album which will get a tons of play during the summer (which will be soon living in Houston)