Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Here is what Kent Rocks had to say:
After two records of figuring themselves out I think the Jersey boys of The Gaslight Anthem have really come into their own. Where the first two records are very aimed at educating on their influences (primarily Springsteen), this is the first Gaslight Anthem record in many ways.
The Gaslight Anthem deserve commercial stardom and I am amazed this band hasn’t reached that level. They should be everyone’s new favorite band. This record is a healthy blend of old school tradition done in their own way mixed with pop sensibilities of the 21st century. Brian Fallon and band seem to be done being the flag runners for the bands that have inspired them and have come to the conclusion that many bands have, which is “Fuck it! We are gonna do this our way.”
The musicianship of this record is a lot tighter than the first. There is something going on ALL the time. Killer riffs and more intricate guitar parts than that last record are peppered throughout the record that work perfectly. Open chords and campfire songs seem to be leaving the band. Sure there are Against Me comparisons, however, I will say this: The Gaslight Anthem writes way better songs than Against Me! This record is more rock and less sing-along which is the Gaslight Anthem’s strong suit. I am sure I will get crucified for this but “Sink or Swim was in my eyes a better, raw, “knock your dick in the dirt” kind of record, where as “The ‘59 Sound” was all like “come sing with us”. Now that being said I feel their two best songs are on “The ‘59 Sound” but “Sink or Swim” was a better record. This is because it was their first record. Most bands do this. Throw it all against the wall and see what sticks. The thing about “American Slang” is that they took all the best attributes of the first two records and expanded and made it more beautiful.
These four young cats approached this record aggressively and made a gorgeous record. The Gaslight Anthem seem focused on great records. They are paying dues and doing it the meat and potatoes way. I am scared to think how phenomenal the fourth record could be. Brian Fallon can write a fricken song. Can Justin Beiber?
Highlights? For me it’s definitely the most pop friendly song on the record “Stay Lucky” and “Boxer” which the cadence of Brian’s voice mixed with the fact that it’s a superbly well written song really hit home runs with me. All around stunning record. HMV is selling it at a price of $9.99 so be sure to pick it up.
... and now for JJ Ramone's thoughts
After showing potential on their debut, The Gaslight Anthem struck gold with 2008's The '59 Sound. Hailing from New Jersey, Brian Fallon and company wore their influences (namely Jersey's golden boy Bruce Springsteen) proudly on their sleeve. Not shying away from his idol, Fallon even referenced several Springsteen lyrics on their last album ("Bobby Jean," "No Surrender" etc). However, if you are going to emulate your heroes you can do far worse than Mr. Springsteen!
With American Slang, the Springsteen influence is still readily apparent. Fallon still writes arena friendly songs with lyrics that hearken back to nostalgic 1950's cinema and Jack Kerouac... classic cars, girls and rebels without causes. The danger with writing songs with these grand, sweeping themes is that the lyrics can often wind up sounding trite, cliched and hokey (see Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams and most mainstream country music.) When done well, the results can be exhilarating (see Tom Petty, The Killers circa Sam's Town and The Arcade Fire.) Luckily, Fallon hits the mark most of the time.
This time around, the band also brings another influence to the forefront, The Clash. This is particularly evident in the reggae tinged "The Queen of Lower Chelsea." As well, Fallon specifically references The Clash's "Tommy Gun" later in the album. (In a related note, Fallon appears in Springsteen's new concert DVD... entitled London Calling, where Springsteen indeed covers The Clash.)
The Gaslight Anthem are definitely not the most original band out there, but they do what they do extremely well. American Slang is an energetic album of punked up Springsteen anthems with a couple slower tunes thrown in to showcase Fallon's soulful rasp. Album closer (without counting the iTunes bonus track "She Loves You") "We Did It When We Were Young" is the perfect way to end the album. The song gradually gains momentum with stripped down, echoing guitars and Fallon's double-tracked vocals that sound like they were sung underwater.
If you didn't like The '59 Sound, this album probably won't convert you. However, if you did like their last album, this definitely won't disappoint. It's definitely worth $10. Highlights include "American Slang," "Boxer," "Stay Lucky" and "Bring It On."
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The record starts strong with “Trash Day” which is much like the stylings of legend Tom Petty and ends just as well with his classic smile and wink wit in “Days/Month/Years”. That being said the going gets great at about the middle of the record.
It’s hard to believe that this artist that is doing very much something similar to the
“She likes Mary Jane
But she says she doesn't like the smell
And She's got a baby
And by the way she walks I can't tell
She's got a birthmark
On the inside of her thigh
Ask me how I know (Ha)
About the inside of her thigh
She knows the Japanese alphabet
But She don't know me-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e
Going the piano-ballad route is that classic Walker Ballad in “Canadian Ten” that doesn’t disappoint. Also a nice bonus if the record was purchased in store is a download card comes included for a superb cover or Taylor Swift‘s “You Belong With Me”. You can't help but smile at the thought of this.
This record has everything that makes a record great. Great la-la-la-la-la’s, great hand claps and great influences such as the glorious pop track that reeks of Phil Spector “Pretty Melody”. It’s the song that’s going to make me a Beatles fan…
In a time where contemporary music is loaded with bands making folk/indie records that fall short, Butch is making great records from start to finish. Most artists can’t make a record this fresh, modern and relevant and still make every song count...but then again most artists aren't Butch Walker.
"I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart" is power pop soaked and folk/indie infused. I don’t think this is going to be the record that defines his career or catapults him to stardom but it’s going to keep his extremely loyal fan base extremely happy… at least till the next record.