The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang, the review

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You took it all gracefully on the chin/Knowing that beatings had to someday end/You found the bandages in the pen/And the stitches in the radio

-“Boxer”

The story goes that Joey Ramone asked Bruce Springsteen to write a song for the Ramones to record.  Springsteen put pen to paper and knocked out “Hungry Heart” later that night.  After giving away breakthrough hits “Fire” and “Because the Night,” the Boss decided to keep “Hungry Heart” for himself.  It became his fist top 10 hit and his mainstream breakthrough.

What, you may ask, is the point of that little trip back in time to Asbury Park?  Well, the reason is simple.  I’m pretty sure that if Springsteen had surrendered “Hungry Heart” to the Ramones it would have changed the face of popular music as we know it.  The Ramones would have achieved a level of mainstream popularity that evaded them and Springsteen would have been okay.

I think if that song had changed hands, a lot more bands would sound like The Gaslight Anthem.

And that, dear readers, would be a good thing.

Hailing from Asbury Park, New Jersey, The Gaslight Anthem, share a sensibility with Springsteen that is unavoidable.  The four piece band brings things back to its stripped down roots.  You’ve got a couple of guitars, a bass and some drums.  You’ve also got frontman, Brian Fallon up front channelling a little Mike Ness as well.

That my friends, is simply good old American rock and roll.

Here’s the track listing:

  1.  American Slang
  2. Stay Lucky
  3. Bring It On
  4. The Diamond Church Street Choir
  5. The Queen of Lower Chelsea
  6. Orphans
  7. Boxer
  8. Old Haunts
  9. The Spirit of Jazz
  10. We Did It When We Were Young

The songs are all tight and punchy.  “American Slang” starts things off with a bang.  Other standouts include “Stay Lucky” and “The Queen of Lower Chelsea.”  Listen closely to “Orphans” and you’ll hear some shared DNA with the Replacements’ “Bastards of Young.” 

What I like most about The Gaslight Anthem is their willingness to wear their influences on their sleeves.  In addition to Springsteen, the Ramones, Social Distortion and the Replacements, you can hear some Cure, Smithereens and even a little John Cafferty.  Yeah, I said it.

So, if you’re looking for some real rock in this age of plastic, prepackaged downloads, give this one a spin.  I think you’ll dig it.

If you don’t, well, there may not be any hope for you.

As a bonus, here’s the band covering Pearl Jam’s “State of Love and Trust” on a recent episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Chris says:

    I heard the title track on the Sirius today and on that basis alone agree 100% with your review. It definitely put me in the mind of the guitar pop prevalent from the mid-70s through the early 80s. a good tune for sure.

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