Toh Kay - The Hands That Thieve

03 October, 2013

By Red


Disclaimer: This is the review of an album which doesn't officially exist. Like Israel's nuclear arsenal, or a married man's porn collection, everyone knows it's out there somewhere - but it's in everyone's interest to pretend it's not. Obviously enough, it is widely available in the same place that one would find porn, or a dummy's guide to building nukes: the dark bowels of the internet.


Before we move on to the Album-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, we need a bit of context. Toh Kay, real name Thomas Kalnoky, is the lead singer of the energetic, trumpet-fuelled, ska-punk band Streetlight Manifesto (SM). SM's previous album, Somewhere in the Between, saw Toh Kay simultaneously releasing an acoustic solo version of that very album - same tracks, same lyrics, but with a very different feel.


SM and Toh Kay wanted to repeat the trick for the release of SM's The Hand That Thieves. A long-standing dispute with their label, Victory Records, entailed a six-month delay in the release of SM's album and the cancellation of Toh Kay solo record.


 The Hand That Thieves1


Like the best kept NSA secrets, however, Toh Kay's album was leaked on the internet, and is now available on all good torrent sites, and on some rubbish ones too. As well as on Youtube, rather surprisingly.


I would obviously never condone anything that could be considered illegal by some fat and talentless IP lawyer sitting in an oversize building in Lower Manhattan, oh no, but I cannot encourage you enough to get your hands, and ears, on this album, whether from Youtube, or somewhere else of your own choosing.


Moving on to the album itself, The Hand That Thieves has a delicate, laid-back, late-night feel to it. Toh Kay's latest solo work follows his established pattern of beautifully crafted melodies coupled with personal and reflective lyrics. It's an album that somehow manages to fit different kinds of mood, at times upbeat and enthusiastic, sometimes slightly melancholic, but always honest, raw, and from the heart. It can be listened to carefully, methodically, absorbing each word and chord progression as one would drink a 1984 Chateau Margot, or in the background, as the perfect background to a conversation with an old friend, heart-beats slowing down as you get deeper into the tunes.


Personal favourites include the eponymous track 'The Hand That Thieves', and its rebellious lyrics undoubtedly inspired by their contract dispute with Victory Record: 'And I will bite the hand that thieves, I will not turn the other cheek, this is no threat, it is a promise I will keep', as well as 'Oh Me, Oh My', and its fatalistic and yet hopelessly optimistic approach to life, death, and everything in between. Those catchy melodies will stick with you long after you've switched you iphone off, lingering in your head like the froth of the waves on a deserted beach.


This album is a must for any existing fan of either Streetlight Manifesto or Toh Kay, and is a great first base for anyone discovering those two extremely talented musical chameleons.





Primary Genre: Folk


Subgenre:  Ska Punk


Release Date:  N/A


Label: N/A


Like This And You'll Probably Also Like:   Streelight Manifesto, Chuck Ragan, Frank Turner  


Album Highlights:  The Hand That Thieves, Oh Me Oh My.






Full Album 






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6 Fluffy Reviews
"From the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing can ever be made"
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Half Iroquois Chief, half Shaolin monk, a quarter Jewish, and a bit of French. Currently auditioning to play a cat in the musical: 'Punk Rock - Anarchy in the EU?
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