Manifesto Jukebox – Desire

The phrase “punk rock” means something different to everyone. After hearing those words, some instantly think of days gone by when the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Ramones were at the start of a movement that barely even had a name. Others conjure up images of kids wearing mall-bought designer clothes with Blink-182 blaring out of their car speakers.
Everyone also has a different view on the ideals and aspirations of those who participate in the genre as well. Some see the punk music scene as an ideal place for those looking to be inspired with new ideas and ways to better society. On the other hand, many concentrate on the cynical and sometimes complacent attitude espoused by many involved in the punk scene who are burnt out by the condition of the world in general. There are plenty of both types of attitude around, though one would hope that there are more of the previously mentioned mindset.
If one were to judge by the sound of their latest release, Manifesto Jukebox is a throw back to the older and more idealistic days of punk rock when the issues talked about seemed to have more of an urgency. Not to say there aren’t bands around today who have a relevant message; there are still many of them out there. At the same time, the genre of punk rock, more than ever, seems to have been co-opted by the mainstream. Some punk fans can remember nightmarish high school days where if someone dyed their hair it was like putting a target on their back. Nowdays, even football players are spiking their hair and moshing to The Offspring. Manifesto Jukebox would have fit right at home in years past when even being a fan of the music could be regarded as a challenge due to the frowns, and sometimes fists, by the many who disregarded it as trash or uncomplex in terms of musicianship, not to mention politics.
Manifesto Jukebox’s sound is predominantly in the vein of bands like Propogandhi where the message seems to be as important as the music. Much like Propogandhi, the music is raw punk-rock, but it also has that extra melodic touch that brings another level to the sound. Not to say that there is any Beach Boy type harmonizing on this record, but the band does weave a nice and delicate blend of harmony with the combination of guitars and vocals.
The one negative about the album is that the majority of the songs sound very similar to one another. When listening to the record, it’s hard to keep track of which song is playing. At the same time, this band is not trying to be the next Radiohead. They seem satisfied playing their own blend of political punk-rock, and most of the tracks on the record reflect this attitude.
“Paralyzed” is a nice album opener that sounds like a mix between Lifetime and Black Flag. The sound is raw and fast, but at the same time there is a bit of melodic beauty to it at times as well. The vocals are gruffly sung but fit in with the energy of the music. “Our New Lenins” keeps the pace going full throttle as the guitars continue to lead the way at hyper speed. “Filter” continues on the aforementioned trends of sound but also has a bit of a departure in the middle of the song with an acoustic sounding change-up part that adds something different to the mix. “Desire” starts with an emo-sounding opening and is a bit different then the previous songs. The pace is slightly slowed down, but the energy put forth still comes through.
Desire is a solid and well-made, though sometimes predictable, album of idealistic punk-rock. Punk rock fans looking for a bit of energy and substance to their music should be happy to hear this release. Those looking for a Green Day or Bad Religion rip-off should try their local mall music store.