Who? Say what you will about Jersey, but it boasts New Brunswick's thriving punk and hardcore scene, which has nurtured bands like the Bouncing Souls, Lifetime, Thursday and now, The Gaslight Anthem. Formed in 2005 and featuring the talents of Brian Fallon (vocals/guitar), Alex Levine (bass), Benny Horowitz (drums), and Alex Rosamilia (guitar), the rough-edged yet heartfelt crew dropped their debut full-length, Sink or Swim, late this spring via New Brunswick-based label, XOXO. The guys are currently supporting it on opening dates for Against Me!.
What's the Deal? It's easy to guess the Gaslight Anthem's influences -- No Idea Records, Jawbreaker, Bruce Springsteen -- but it's their ability to combine those loves into something so moving and uniquely their own that makes Sink or Swim one of the best debuts of 2007. The band effortlessly pits tattered guitars and huge choruses ("Drive," "I'da called You Woody, Joe") shoulder-to-shoulder with acoustic songs of weathered beauty ("The Navesink Banks"), while lining the entire affair with a tender soulfulness usually reserved for solo outings or Lucero. Fallon's sandpapered voice spouts lyrics like a seasoned storyteller, as when "I Coul'da Been a Contender" urgently builds from a whispered croon into bruised admission of heartache and redemption. Meet your new favorite band.
Fun Fact: Sink or Swim album closer "Red at Night" might sound vaguely familiar to attentive listeners and for good reason. The song finds Brian Fallon paying tribute to some of his musical heroes by tweaking the musical arrangement of Billy Bragg's "Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key" -- from the Mermaid Avenue (1998) album Bragg did with Wilco that brought completed Woody Guthrie lyrics to life -- as the basis for his own acoustic tale.
Now Hear This:
The Gaslight Anthem - "I'da Called You Woody, Joe" DOWNLOAD MP3
Talk: Does the Gaslight Anthem 'sink' or 'swim'?
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