Listen to The Gaslight Anthem ASAP

September 22, 2008

I have to do a bit more raving and promoting today. I read a small one sentence blurb in Rolling Stone awhile back about a band called Gaslight Anthem. I was looking around on the internet and reading in magazines the other day, making a few play lists and I wanted to hear a little new music. Anyway, I remembered the blurb from Rolling Stone because it put one of the singles from this band on their hot list and it said, “just a guess, but these buzzed-about Jersey punk kids might like Springsteen…the fist- pumpiest guitar anthems we’ve heard all year.” So, being a huge Springsteen fan I had to research this band. The Springsteen influence is overstated for a lot of bands, what with Arcade Fire being called on it for “Keep the Car Running,” The Killers for “Sam’s Town,” and The Hold Steady for much of “Boy and Girls in America,” but I think the Springsteen influence is much more evident with Gaslight Anthem. I listened to four songs by the band and was blown away. I found their latest album on itunes for a few bucks, threw it on my ipod and listened to it while trying to go to sleep last night…and I felt like getting out of bed and calling every music fan friend I have and telling them to either log on and buy this or drive to the nearest music store as soon as possible and purchase it on CD (I can only imagine it on vinyl, I have to hunt it down on vinyl soon). This band’s music has excited me like no other has done in quite awhile. The lyrics are all great, the music is all perfect…I’ve been researching the heck out of this band and have been out of luck to find a bad song by them. If you like pure, true rock and roll music you will not be disappointed with the Gaslight Anthem and their new album “The ‘59 Sound.” Perfect choruses, perfect guitar riffs and music that cuts to the bone and settles in your heart. Honestly, I’m not the type of person who hears a new band every month or two and gets thrilled–most of my favorite bands and musicians started their music careers years if not decades ago. Although I like some new music, a lot of it is simply good but nowhere near great for me. A lot of the newer stuff that does turn out to be great for me takes awhile as it grows on me–like The National, My Morning Jacket, etc. But the music by Gaslight Anthem grabbed me upon first listen. Even my two favorite newer bands from the past 5 years–The Hold Steady and The Drive by Truckers–put out many songs and albums that took a little time to really settle in with me. I haven’t been this hyped about a band since The Hold Steady, and with time this band may very well surpass them for me if the rest of their music remains this great. You’ll catch nods to their influences in many of their songs–patches of lyrics from Springsteen, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello and even early Counting Crows, sing-along chorus with powerful riffs and breakdown chants that echo classic rock perfectly, but even though they nod to their influences they never sound like a copy. They sound like a totally original band that knows where they came from and who they owe to be able to make the kind of music that they’re making but who uses those influences to enhance what they already have. Most of the time when a newer band tries to emulate the influences I mentioned they end up writing lyrics that fall flat and border on cheesy and barely conceal earlier riffs to hope newer audiences don’t notice or don’t care–not Gaslight Anthem. Rock and Roll is all about the intertwining of the sacred and the profane, about seizing any moment it can in an attempt to fully realize life and its potential. It’s about nostalgia for a past and prediction of a future that may not even exist but does exist as long as the song continues. It’s about girls, cars, God, death, sex, love, life, school, debt, riches, sickness, heartbreak, lust love, faith, hope, failure–it’s about the moments when these things all occur simultaneously, and good God I’ve never felt this upon hearing songs by a new band for the very first time–it reminds me of the best “rock and roll” moments in my life–seeing Kiss live when I was the perfect age for such a thing (13), catching a drumstick at a concert by The Darkness, who put on the closest thing to a Queen concert someone from my generation could ever hope for, hearing the entire “Born to Run” album for the first time, cruising in my first car at 17 listening to my favorite Cds at night, hearing albums like “London Calling” by The Clash on the very first turntable sound system I ever assembled with my roommate in college, seeing Nine Inch Nails on Halloween night as they performed “Right Where It Belongs” in front of a video screen showing George Bush, printing presses full of money, dying soldiers and exploding bombs and knowing the crowd felt unified in their hatred of the status quo and the hope for a better world.
Springsteen said in an interview once that what Elvis did for the body, Dylan did for the mind. I feel that Springsteen was the first to ever successfully combine those two factors in his own music while making it totally original in its own right. Springsteen came along when much of popular music was stagnant and succeeded by nodding to his past and making it new again. If you want to hear that in a modern version, music that nods to its past but makes it new again and is totally original, get a hold of some music by Gaslight Anthem. I’m thrilled to be able to add another title to what will probably be my “Ten Best of the Year” album list I’ll put on here at the end of the year. I was afraid it’d be a slow year– I buy much fewer new releases than I did a few years ago but I’ve been discerning this year and have noticed quite a few classic under the radar that have sparked my faith in new music again–and of course there have been a few good popular releases as well.
I’ve done my part–listen to Gaslight Anthem if you like rock and roll–you won’t be disappointed.

By the way, tune into the Presidential Debates this Friday. I’ll have my take on them afterwards. Also look out for a blog about presidential urban legends concerning topics you may have seen in your email (taxes, anyone?) that have been misleading and wrong. More to come…

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