New Gaslight Anthem: “45”

Photo by Tony Cano

I’ll be honest, The Gaslight Anthem‘s last record, American Slang, didn’t do a whole lot for me. After being knocked out by their preceding album, 2008’s The ’59 Sound (the title track and “Here’s Looking At You, Kid” being two of my favorites), Slang just seemed to lack that spark, that connection and excitement I felt with ’59.

With their brand new single, “45”, Brian Fallon and the boys are clearly back in that hard-driving ’59 frame of mind.

The single comes from Handwritten, TGA‘s new album due out on June 24th. The album is produced by Brendan O’Brien, who we Springsteen fans are well aware of (he produced The Rising, Magic, and Working On A Dream), but who has also produced the likes of Pearl Jam, Incubus, Mastodon, and Trey Anastasio (and a whole lot more).

It should be an entertaining listen, and I look forward to checking it out – and of course I hope TGA are returning to my neck of the woods on tour. The albums are one thing, but their live shows take their songs up in the stratosphere.

The Friday Five: March 25, 2011

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

“Nothing is Alone” by Toad the Wet Sprocket (from 1992-09-16: Fox Theater, Boulder, CO, USA, 1992)

“And now the song so happy, Todd had to sing it.” Who can resist a sappy love-lorn tune in 3/8 time?

“Both Sides of the Story” by Phil Collins (from …Hits, 1998)

This tune always seemed a bit like Phil trying really hard to sing a Peter Gabriel track. I realize the irony in that statement, but listen to “Biko,” and “Come Talk to Me,” and come back to this track and tell me that you don’t hear it. Go ahead, I’ll wait here.

“Bone Machine” by Pixies (from Surfer Rosa, 1988)

Two Friday Five appearances in a row!

“The ’59 Sound” by The Gaslight Anthem (from The ’59 Sound, 2008)

I haven’t listened to this record in over a year, I’ll have to cue it up over the weekend. I think I burned myself out on it, and didn’t care at all for the follow up; causing me to unintentionally shun the band for a bit.

“If I Can’t Change Your Mind” by Sugar (from Besides, 1995)

From the live portion of the set, I was always amazed at how fast these tunes were played live.

What’s on your shuffle today?

New Gaslight Anthem: “American Slang”

Over the last couple of days, not only did Jersey’s Gaslight Anthem join Facebook, but they also released their first single (and title track) from their forthcoming album American Slang. Stoked! This means not only will we all be rocking out to a new Gaslight album in a few short months (June 15th), but we’ll also have the chance to catch them live – which is an experience all its own. Their studio albums are impressive, but live is where their music pulses and breathes.  Can’t wait.

Hear “American Slang” on the Gaslight Anthem’s Facebook page.

Here’s the track list:
01. American Slang
02. Stay Lucky
03. Bring It On
04. The Diamond Church Street Choir
05. The Queen of Lower Chelsea
06. Orphans
07. Boxer
08. Old Haunts
09. The Spirit Of Jazz
10. We Did It When We Were Young

The Friday Five: January 1, 2010

Friday Five : ˈfrī-(ˌ)dā,-dē ˈfīv : On the sixth day of every week I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five and drop a little knowledge and insight for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we have guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

Editors Note: For the first Friday Five of 2010, I’m taking a look back at five of my favorite records from the last decade. Placed in no particular order, these are the records that I found myself coming back to time and again. Happy New Year, to all of you.  – Michael

Amy Winehouse – “Tears Dry on Their Own” (from Back to Black, 2006)

Is there an artist that better embodies “The Noughties” than Amy Winehouse? The slight, awkward girl from Southgate, England with the voice that could topple buildings; yet it was her personal battles with drugs that the media focused on. An amalgam of classic soul, vocal jazz and ska, Back to Black earned Winehouse six Grammy nominations and five awards, and was the best selling record in 2007. The track “Tears Dry on Their Own,” for me, stands out above the rest; capturing the best of Winehouse’s powerful vocals.

The Gaslight Anthem – “Great Expectations” (from The ’59 Sound, 2008)

You can take the band out of New Jersey, but you cannot take the New Jersey out of the band. The Gaslight Anthem provided the end of the decade with a much-needed shot of straightforward rock & roll. The songs on The ’59 Sound are rife with stories of life in small town America; quoting everyone from Bon Jovi, Counting Crows and even The Boss himself, all while sounding fresh and vital. The record kicks off with the barnburner “Great Expectations,” which contains as many literary movements as you would expect from a song titled after the Charles Dickens classic.

Chromeo – “Bonafied Lovin’ (Tough Guys)” (from Fancy Footwork, 2008)

The self-described “only successful Arab/Jewish partnership since the dawn of human culture,” Chromeo is holding the torch for ’80s inspired electrofunk. Their album, Fancy Footwork, is one of the best dance records of the last decade. They also turned in one of the most memorable appearances on Daryl Hall’s web series, Live from Daryl’s House. Selecting a single track from the record proved nearly impossible, so I put my trust in the shuffle button, which served up the new jack swing of “Bonafied Lovin’ (Tough Guys).”

Band of Horses – “The First Song” (from Everything All the Time, 2006)

There is a certain understated majesty to the opening of the aptly titled “The First Song,” the lead track on Band of Horses 2006 debut Everything All the Time. Indie rock with a decidedly southern bend, the band — led by Ben Bridwell — caught flack for allowing their anthemic, “The Funeral,” to be used in marketing campaigns for Ford as well as in slew of movies and television programs.

Prince – “Call My Name” (from Musicology, 2004)

The last decade has been an uneven one for Prince. As a performer, he toured the world twice over, commanded a Las Vegas residency, 21 nights at London’s O2 stadium, and perhaps one of the most memorable Super Bowl halftime performances; as a recording artist, he was hit or miss. However, the one exception was the incredibly funky Musicology, which rocketed Prince back into the spotlight. From funk to soul, his purple badness proved that he still had the juice to create a commercially viable, yet funky as hell record.

So tell me, what is soothing your aching head today?

The Friday Five: October 23, 2009

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Friday Five : ˈfrī-(ˌ)dā,-dē ˈfīv : On the sixth day of every week I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five and drop a little knowledge and insight for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we have guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

Nirvana – “Come as You Are” (from Nevermind, 1991)

If I’m being completely honest this is probably the first time I’ve listened to anything from the seminal grunge record in probably the last couple of years.

The Gaslight Anthem – “Casanova, Baby!” (from The ’59 Sound, 2008)

The ’59 Sound is one of those records that gets under your skin and just hangs with you. Since discovering the band I’ve found myself coming back to the record time and again for a blast of tried and true rock n’ roll.

P.M. Dawn – “I’d Die Without You” (mp3) (from The Bliss Album…?, 1993)

Boys and girls, during the summer of ’93 this track was my ‘jam’.

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds – “Granny” (from Live at Luther College, 1999)

Quite simply this is a perfectly simple and sweet love song.

Dream Theater – “Another Day” (mp3) (from Images and Words, 1992)

As much as I like this song I’ve come to realize that in the context of the rest of the band’s discography that this tune stands out as possibly the worst. With its Kenny G inspired sax breaks (lest we not forget that Mr. Gorelick’s Breathless was one of the biggest records of 1992) and overall adult contemporary leanings – I swear, it would not surprise me at all if David Foster had a hand in its creation – it could easily represent the group’s weakest moments.

What is shuffling up for you this week?

Review: The Gaslight Anthem at Martini Ranch, Scottsdale

For the second time in just 6 months, the Phoenix area was treated last night to the bare-bones rapid-fire majesty that is the Gaslight Anthem. The guys have been touring their asses off in 2009, with two swings around the US, and a successful European festival season highlighted by a couple of guest appearances by Bruce Springsteen on “The ’59 Sound” (at Glastonbury and Hard Rock Calling). Their work ethic is paying off, it seems. The buzz continues to build, and I felt a noticeable difference in the vibe between last night’s show at Scottsdale’s Martini Ranch, and April’s show at Tempe’s Clubhouse. The atmosphere felt more electric last night – the crowd was alive, vibrant, singing along, pumping their fists; and the venue is more colorful and inviting than the dungeon-like Clubhouse. It was my first show there, and any reluctance I had about venturing into the belly of the beast that is Scottsdale was quickly put to rest.

My brother and I (6’3″ and 6’4″) respectively, got a good position stage right – much to the disappointment of those behind us. Sorry folks, we staked our claim. Move along, nothing to see here.

The set was standard fare for the Gaslight Anthem. That’s no knock on them – it’s just that with two full albums and an EP to draw from – you have a good idea which songs are coming. But there’s nothing standard about their performance. The charisma and charm of front man Brian Fallon leads the charge…

They played all but one song off of their 2008 breakthrough The ’59 Sound (no “Meet Me By The River’s Edge” their most direct tribute to the Boss), and they drew a handful from their debut Sink or Swim, and their EP Senor and the Queen. I’m most familiar with The ’59 Sound, and what was astounding to me was how familiar the crowd was with their older material. I love the fact that there’s a fan base like this locally – lingering under the radar – and emerging for great live experiences like this.

Sound-wise, my only gripe is that Fallon’s mic could have been louder and more crisp – the vocals weren’t too clear at times. Then again, we were in front of the bass amp, so Alex Levine’s bass lines were washing over us pretty intensely.

The highlights for me came in the form of “The ’59 Sound”, which really turned me on to the band when they performed it on Letterman early this year; the “Stand By Me” intro into “I’da Called You Woody, Joe”, which is Fallon’s ode to Joe Strummer and the Clash; I love the driving force of “The Patient Ferris Wheel”; and one of Gaslight’s few ballads, “Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid”. I know it’s hard to pull off live, but I wish Fallon would sing it in the lower register like he does on the album – it’s such a bittersweet tune.

Gaslight’s set clocked in just short of 90 minutes, and as they wrapped it up with “We’re Getting A Divorce, You Keep The Dinner” , the final chant resonated with me: “It’s all right, man / I’m only bleeding, man. / Stay hungry, stay free, And do the best you can.” It sums up what I love about the band, and the artists they draw inspiration from – Strummer & Springsteen in particular – that in this imperfect and often unjust world in which we live, the important thing is not to let it get you down. Stay positive, care for those around you, and “stay hungry, stay free, and do the best you can.”

The Gaslight Anthem continue their hectic touring schedule. If you’re in North America, odds are they’ll be in your neighborhood by the end of the year. Check out the tour dates here. Check out a great band on an upward trajectory. There are great things to come from these guys.

Quick Notes:

  • It was great meeting two friends from my Twitter existence: Drew (@azecho) and Dave (@dfactor). I met Drew when a 300 lb drunk was shoving himself through the crowd, and pushed Drew right into me. That guy cannot be feeling great today.
  • I would have posted some pics, but they didn’t turn out post-worthy at all. The only decent one was of the hot Gaslight roadie.
  • I didn’t mention the opening acts, Gaslight’s tour mates the Loved Ones and Death by Murder. It was my first exposure to either band. I’d have gone more into their sets, but I’m not familiar at all with them, so I’ll spare you. Enjoyable stuff, though.

Set List – 9/15/2009
Martini Ranch
Scottsdale, AZ

High Lonesome
Casanova, Baby!
Old White Lincoln
Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
The ’59 Sound
We Came To Dance
Film Noir
Miles Davis & The Cool
The Patient Ferris Wheel
Stand by Me intro >
I’da Called You Woody, Joe
Angry Johnny And The Radio >
If I Had a Boat [Lyle Lovett]
Great Expectations
Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid
The Backseat

Encore

Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts
Wherefore Are Thou, Elvis?
Senor and the Queen
We’re Getting A Divorce, You Keep The Dinner

Incoming: Gaslight Anthem, Citizen Cope

My next two shows are in the books…

The Gaslight Anthem – September 15th – Martini Ranch, Scottsdale | I’m not crazy about the venue – right in the heart of Old Town Snottsdale – but for Brian Fallon and the boys of Gaslight Anthem, I will endure the surrounding douchery. They’re fresh off a summer festival season highlighted by a couple of guest appearances by fellow Jersey boy Bruce Springsteen, and hallelujah, they’re back in Arizona for their second appearance in 6 months. Bless you boys.

The Gaslight AnthemBoomboxes and Dictionaries (mp3)  |  Official Site | Tour Dates

Citizen Cope – September 25th – Marquee Theater, Tempe | About as laid back of a stage presence as you’ll find, Citizen Cope brings the cool with a really unique mix of earthy soul & roots music. I really enjoyed my first Cope show in the same venue a year and a half ago. Part of  what made it great was the presence of sexy soul songstress Alice Smith. I think she’s still tagging along with Cope – here’s hoping she’s part of it again.

Citizen CopeHurricane Waters (mp3) | Official Site | Tour Dates

The Friday Five: July 3, 2009

Be Like Dad, Keep Shuffle.

Friday Five : ˈfrī-(ˌ)dā,-dē ˈfīv : On the sixth day of every week I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five and drop a little knowledge and insight for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we have guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

Editor’s Note: After a 4 day work week that felt more like 7 it’s time to unwind, but before I start my holiday weekend I’ve got a quick shuffle to share. Have a safe and great Independence Day weekend.

Harvey Danger – “Flagpole Sitta” (from Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?, 1997)

The Gaslight Anthem – “Great Expectations” (mp3) (from The ’59 Sound, 2008)

Van Halen – “Jamie’s Cryin'” (from Van Halen, 1978)

Prince – “Controversy” (from Controversy, 1981)

Bobby Brown – “Roni” (mp3) (from Dance! … Ya Know It, 1989)

What tunes are getting you started today?

Bruce Joins the Gaslight Anthem at Glastonbury

Fist clenching, goosebump inducing stuff!! The Boss joined the Gaslight Anthem onstage at Glastonbury. This 2 minute clip is enough to get me revved up! Gahhhhrrrr!!!

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And I just read that Bruce opened his set with an acoustic version of Joe Strummer’s “Coma Girl”. This is too much!!

I’m On Fire

Thanks to a post on Slowcoustic, I  happened upon a cool A.A. Bondy version of “I’m On Fire” today (who’ll be at Modified in Phoenix later this month).  I had to share.

Hear: A.A. Bondy I’m On Fire (mp3)

Which made me seek out the Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon singing the same tune at a performance in Germany. Both great interpretations of a classic Boss tune…

Sites: A.A. Bondy | Gaslight Anthem