By: Brendan Schaller
When considering the modern sound of punk rock, chances are you’d expect the same recycled sound that you’ve heard from countless imitators attempting to fit into a well-worn stereotype.
No bullshit. The Gaslight Anthem is something new.
Hailing from New Brunswick, New Jersey (which has brought you bands like Thursday, Lifetime and Pavement), the boys of TGLA have made music influenced by fellow New Brunswick punk natives, The Bouncing Souls, but more noticeably, New Jersey hero Bruce Springsteen. Songs on the band’s newest album, “The ’59 Sound,” reference artists like Tom Waits, Joe Strummer, Miles Davis and Tom Petty.
The group formed in 2005 and has since shared the road with Against Me!, The Loved Ones, The Bouncing Souls and others.
“The ’59 Sound” was released in mid-August and has been met with great reviews from magazines the likes of Rolling Stone and Alternative Press and even “The New York Times.”
The album is filled with stories and imagery read to a refreshingly simple sound. The first track, “Great Expectations” is about divorce, hope and a young man’s struggle between living life and thinking about the past. The album’s title track is about someone young dying in a car accident and singer/guitarist Brian Fallon opens asking, “Well I wonder, which song they’re gonna play when we go. I hope it’s something quiet and minor and peaceful and slow.” He closes the song with, “Young boys, young girls, ain’t supposed to die on a Saturday night.”
Many songs just pour right from the mouth of a young man dealing with the ugliness of the world and not only growing up and dealing with it, but yearning for better days of childhood. He sings in “Miles Davis and the Cool,” “as we go down, down, down from our youth to the ground.”
The tone of the album’s songs varies greatly. “The Patient Ferris Wheel” is bouncy and light-hearted with a quick-paced guitar riff, while “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” is scorching and soulful. It’s easy to tell where Fallon’s influences come from when he croons on this track. “Here’s Looking at You Kid,” an obvious nod to “Casablanca,” touches on past relationships and mysterious stories before some of the weightiest lyrics on the album; “boys will be boys, and girls have those eyes that will cut you to ribbons sometimes, and all you can do is wait by the moon and bleed if it’s what she says you oughta do.”
When the music is heavy on rock ‘n’ roll with a “rebel without a cause”-inspired punk foundation, and you back that with Fallon’s raspy, soulful vocals, you’ve got something unique.
The Gaslight Anthem are currently trekking across the US opening for Thrice, Alkaline Trio and Rise Against now through the end of November.