» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Gaslight Anthem
American Slang
Side One Dummy

Rating: 3.8/10 ?

July 12, 2010
How long can you get by on nostalgia and retro signifiers masquerading as depth in your lyrics? Well, the Gaslight Anthem is going to find out.

After their breakthrough, The '59 Sound, the Jerseyian punks appear to have taken a Green Day-like career shift: finding a concept that struck a chord and beating it to death like one of the down-and-out ciphers in the B-movie quality Springsteen worldview they've constructed. And it looks like we're going to have to deal with a Killers-style romanticization of American decay (and characters lamenting how much better things used to be!) without any of the fun (hooks, sing-along choruses, etc).

When there are several other options out there doing more or less the same thing with more pronounced ambitions (Titus Andronicus' monster of musical dexterity The Monitor and Against Me! basically doing the same thing with more smarts), it's tough to stomach songs like "Stay Lucky" whose lyrics are a hodgepodge of pureed clichés with a number of snappy but unmemorable guitar hooks, or "American Slang," which admittedly had an uphill battle based on the lameness of its title alone. By the time we get a chorus of "give me the fevers that just won't break/ and give me the children you don't want to raise" in "Bring It On" (another lame title people!) it occurred that I really should just give you a snippet of the tedious "poetry" we have to put up with, unadorned:

And take it back to the streets
Where you know you used to be
For the Romeos of the town
If I bring you down
And you're really walking out

This leads to the aforementioned "fevers" chorus. Can you picture the 20 seconds of your life I just saved you from?

Immediately following is the one stylistic shift, "The Diamond Church Street Choir," which has the same sort of impact as '59 Sound's "Miles Davis and the Cool," and for one brief minute the Gaslight Anthem makes sense. They slow down and strip out some of the more egregiously generic stuff and it's just Brian Fallon's Bob Seger-throwback affect and a Motown-acting rhythm backing. Ain't innovative, but I'll take it. Then they're back to tired also-rans and leftist sloganeering that may be exciting to anyone whose parents didn't play them Born in the U.S.A., but is to the point of annoying and depressing (more that they couldn't think of a new way to express this stuff than anything to do with the melodramatic content) to the rest of us.

Luckily, the success of '59 Sound hasn't inspired much in the way of anticipation aside from their built-in fanbase and some fluke critical acclaim, so you should be able to avoid the generic guitar parts, the vocals dipped in just enough echo to crack with the proverbial screen door in "Born to Run," and especially the overwrought lyrics. Unless you're having trouble sleeping. Then by all means, put this one on.

Reviewed by Cory Tendering
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See other reviews by Cory Tendering



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