Review: The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang

The first time I ever heard American Slang was in my freshman college dorm room, just a week or two from the end of school, on a gorgeous April spring day. Now, if I’d been a law-abiding listener, the wait to hear the new album from The Gaslight Anthem—their follow-up to 2008’s acclaimed The ’59 Sound—still would have been the better part of two months. American Slang didn’t officially hit the streets until June 15. But 2010 was maybe the golden age of album leaks, and as a broke college student with a budget for little more than gas and the occasional midnight McDonald’s run with my roommate, that fact was very good news for me. It also meant that American Slang, a bulletproof summer soundtrack album, got to serve as the bookend to my first year of college, and to all the anticipation I was feeling as four months of summer approached.

When The ’59 Sound broke in 2008, The Gaslight Anthem quickly became one of the most buzzed-about rock bands in all the circles I was a part of online. Here was a band that respected classic rock traditions and made them sound new again; a band willing to pilfer from their influences in the most loving manner possible; a band whose frontman was, perhaps, worthy of being called “this generation’s Bruce Springsteen.” All that hype only became louder and louder throughout 2009 and into the early part of 2010, which meant that by the time Gaslight announced their new record, excitement for it was through the roof. A title and an album cover that seemed to promise another sweeping classic-rock-styled masterpiece? Well, who could resist that?

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Review: Brian Fallon – Sleepwalkers

Not too long ago, Brian Fallon sounded like he was broken. Get Hurt, The Gaslight Anthem’s fifth (and as-yet, last) album, sounded like a band on its last legs. Written and recorded in the wake of a grueling, never-ending tour schedule—as well as Fallon’s divorce from his first wife—Get Hurt felt like the end of something. When Fallon resurfaced on 2015’s Painkillers, his solo debut, he was retreating from the fallout of it all. “I don’t want to survive/I want a wonderful life” he sang in the first single, but the most revealing line came on the closing track: “You can’t make me whole/I have to find that on my own.” That song, and that album as a whole, were the sounds of a man whose recovery was still a work in progress.

Sleepwalkers, Fallon’s sophomore solo LP, is the natural conclusion to the trilogy that began on Get Hurt. It’s also the most wholly satisfying album of the three, blowing up an array of different influences to make the most vibrant, lively LP that Fallon has put his name on since the early Gaslight Anthem days.

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Review: Brian Fallon – Painkillers

Brian Fallon - Painkillers

There aren’t many people in music right now who are under more pressure than Brian Fallon. Labeled as the torchbearer of the classic rock tradition upon the release of 2008’s The ’59 Sound—the sophomore album from his Jersey-based quartet, The Gaslight Anthem—Fallon has spent the better part of his career not just having to live up to the quality of his own albums and songs, but to his idols as well. A lot of people got into Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan after hearing consistent references to each in Gaslight’s early music. In fact, Gaslight’s legacy got so entwined in the “inspired by Springsteen” narrative that fans started requesting Bruce songs at shows. Even Fallon’s side project, the Horrible Crowes, got whipped up in the Springsteen tornado, drawing at least a handful of parallels to Nebraska. Let’s be honest: figuring out a way to live up to an album as terrific as The ’59 Sound is hard enough. Doing it when everyone is comparing your stuff to albums like Born to Run and Damn the Torpedoes is just downright unfair.

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