Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang

Probably our nicest-looking screengrab in a while, this…


Pete Baran: Sorry, had to turn it off after the first two lines, the growly voice explaining how he was coming out of his skin conjured up too much of a horrible image for me to continue.

Doug Robertson: Ah, the American Joe, forever doomed to be immortalised in songs that sound like an extended version of the grunts of tennis players. Just because people work long, unpleasant, grinding hours in a boring job doesn’t mean they want to listen to the aural equivalent when they eventually get home.

Al Shipley: A good what-they-always-do from a band who hasn’t really been around long enough to have a what-they-always-do this quickly, but hey, it works. I tend to like the moodier deep cuts more than the uptempo lead tracks from them, though.

Anthony Easton: Each generation gets the Bruce Springsteen they deserve — this one is more Jersey, less angry, and less pious then The Hold Steady, but the melancholic Americana is oppressively present.

Martin Skidmore: I can’t say that I think the world needs a band trying to cross Springsteen with the Clash. Much as I loved the latter, 30+ years later this makes the Alarm sound vital and current. If you want a lumbering mainline rock act that buys into The Boss’s sensibilities, go for it, but not for me, thanks.

Rebecca Toennessen: This chap had better list The Boss as an influence, otherwise I’d have to beat him with a sack of oranges. He’s not bad at singing Springsteenesquely, but the lyrics aren’t as poetic, at least not in this instance. Musically, it’s fairly inoffensive young person’s indie. Would rather just listen to Bruce.

Chuck Eddy: Tried listening to their new album in the car (where it should work if it’d work anywhere, given this is working class Jersey road rock supposedly), and I’m not hearing them at all — flat regular-guy sore throat, drab college-rock guitar shamble sans rocking riffs, nothing rhythm with no evident knowledge of the blues-based rock’n’roll that has always been lifeblood for great bar bands. Occasionally a melody might sound slightly more rousing than the rest (this one lands somewhere in the middle), but if there are evocative words, the singer’s not putting them over. Just like their fellow overrated wordy Jerseyites Titus Andronicus, they’re more emo than Bruce, without even the wit of Hold Steady or brawn of Dropkick Murphys to fall back on –and I’ve cut both of those bands more slack than they’ve warranted over the years. Graded strictly for falling so far short of what they could be.

Jonathan Bradley: Leaner and more focused than their earlier singles, and not necessarily to the song’s benefit either; the Gaslight Anthem is a band that need not play down its natural predilection for wide scope. But the toned riffs benefit from Brian Fallon’s inability to write anything but anthems, and considering the lyric’s hints of hopes dashed, the tune’s blinkered charge suits. There are songs that better encapsulate the emotional vibrancy and facility with rock ‘n’ roll mythology central to this band’s appeal, but “American Slang” succeeds on other grounds: the breakneck energy, the quivering pulse, and the punk influences more palpable than usual. Perhaps fortunes told in American slang are the type that do not come true. If so, this single hints at a change in direction. A band steeped in Americana is turning from the town to the darkness at the edge.

Alfred Soto: Insistent, brawny licks, with vocals and lyrics to match (“You told me fortunes in American slang” is incoherent in the best way). Now that the Killers shaved their mustaches after their own attempts to remake Darkness on the Edge of Town, these guys stand a chance.

Iain Mew: Hearing this on the radio I went a fair while thinking that it was “American Slime”, which made for a griminess that it actually doesn’t quite get to. Still, it’s earthy and crunchy in a pleasing way, passes by with minimum unnecessary bluster and is definitely far preferable to The Killers’ attempts at similar.

6 Responses to “The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang”

  1. All this Bruce talk and nothing about Tom Petty, who this song more resembles, I think.

  2. “they’re more emo than Bruce, without even the wit of Hold Steady or brawn of Dropkick Murphys to fall back on”

    This sentence is constructed as if “emo” were a criticism, but that doesn’t make sense.

  3. The sentence is probably ambiguous, I’ll give you that — definitely didn’t mean “they’re more emo than Bruce is,” though it could easily be read it that way. (And by now, he’s pretty darn emo himself, I suppose.)

  4. I meant more “you say emo like it was a bad thing.” I wouldn’t be quite so jerky as to engage in post-facto copy-editing. ;)

  5. I knew what you meant! I was just circumventing the argument. (But ok, fine — emo’s a bad thing.) (Usually.)

  6. I can’t say for sure that I’ve never turned off a song before its end and still given it a score/blurb here, but man admitting it looks shitty.