Sunday, October 12, 2008

Review: The Gaslight Anthem, The 59 Sound

Some of my favorite all time records have come from groups like The Clash, Against Me, and Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. And while these 3 firecracker groups are often regarded as scathing political preachers when it comes to their music; politics have absolutely nothing to do with what I admire about "London Calling," "Born In The USA," "Sandinista" or "New Wave."

I mean yea sure, I occasionally like raging against the machine, wearing skinny ties and railin' the man, but what really magnetizes me to a band is pure unbridled passion. Gut emptying, veins busting in your forehead, eyes bleeding delivery.

But I hear less and less of that fury and passion these days. Blood and guts is so hard to find anymore! I wasted so much money on new releases this year that ended up bumming me out about the state of the music biz that I actually stopped paying attention for a while. Even the new Nada Surf and Subways records let me down. But then I got a wake up call from a young Jersey foursome with ringing guitars, big dreams, loud hearts and no money.

The Gaslight Anthem's much-buzzed about record, The 59 Sound, is everything you heard about it. Fertile, hungry, powerful, instantally classic, and sopping with maxed-out soul-on-fire songwriting. If you've waited this long to check it out, you need to stop that. It's one of those that will not leave your player for a long time, because it's still in mine and I can't remember the last record that fired me up like this.

It's as Joe Strummer as it is Bruce Springsteen. Energy, energy, energy, with warm and melodic delivery. Heck, you could even say it's like a good Alkaline Trio album without all the goth, blood, and self-loathing. Think of Springsteen's "The River" with a shot of adrenaline in the arm. And for a group that clearly worships Strummer and Springsteen with equal twinkle, there is nothing political and nothing to preach on a single song; just love, struggle and hard blue collar work from corner to corner.

It surely doesn't break any rules or create any new musical conventions or subgenres. It's just plain ol' empassioned rock, strong on tradition and made with genuine soul and heart. Check these songs out.

MP3: The Gaslight Anthem-The 59 Sound
Irony would have it that this here title track about death is the song full of the most life on the album. It's an ode to singer Brian Fallon's friend who died in a car wreck, but I love the imagery and notion of what song we'll hear when we pass along to the afterlife. I'd die to hear this song (and I almost do every day at work, waiting and waiting and waiting till 6 pm when I can dart to the car and crank the speakers up with this tune full blast)

MP3: The Gaslight Anthem-Here's Looking At You, Kid
This slower, sweeter kissoff to all the girls that Fallon lost through the years bangs my head up just as hard as the louder songs on the album. It's as potent as Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" and reminds me of High Fidelity where Rob Gordon nostagically retraces his steps with his "Top 5" ex-girlfriends, which not-so-ironically features a cameo from The Boss. And that's why me, John Cusack and The Gaslight Anthem all get along so well.

"Give that one final good bye and good luck to your all time top 5, and move on down the road."

Thanks, Boss.

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