I used to be all about finding new bands the past couple years but I’ve kind of stopped this year because there isn’t really much out there that interests me. This occurred to me while I was skimming the pages of Alternative Press’ “100 Bands You Need To Know” issue and couldn't seem to find any bands that appealed to me until I came across an article about The Gaslight Anthem. I looked at their appearance and sound alikes and thought "These guys seem pretty cool!” Then I read their description and the article and was interested in hearing them. After I listened to what was on their myspace, I picked up their debut album, Sink or Swim
. If this album came out this year and not last year, then it would probably be my favorite album of the year thus far.
I am very surpised that The Gaslight Anthem have only been around for a few years because they sound like they've been around much longer. They play a great combination of punk and classic rock ‘n roll, imagine if Bruce Springsteen was playing punk music, this maybe the result. The Gaslight Anthem mix together rock ‘n roll, folk and soul sounds while not straying too far away from their core punk rock sound. There is a lot of influence from folk-punk band Against Me! on this album too, particularly the “whoas” in the opener, “Boomboxes and Dictionaries.” Vocalist Brian Fallon’s rough voice bares a resemblance to Hot Water Music’s Chuck Ragan and Against Me’s Tom Gabel, almost like somewhere in between the two vocalists. The Gaslight Anthem sound like they are paying homage to those band if anything. The strongest part of Sink or Swim
are the choruses, most of the songs revolved around a somewhat, quiet, build up verse into a strong, anthem-like chorus.
Sink or Swim
isn’t full of upbeat rock, there are a couple slow acoustic ballads such as “The Navesink Banks” and “Red At Night,” which change the pace of the record but provide a great melancholy tone, which is beautiful in it’s own way. The latter mentioned is the album closer. As great as the acoustic tracks are, the best ones are the faster, up-tempo ones. One of the main ones being “We’re Getting A Divorce, You Keep The Diner” which ends with catchy gang vocals repeating the lines of “It’s alright man, I’m only bleeding, man. Stay hungry, stay free and do the best you can.” Another standout track is the power chord driven “Wooderson,” the shortest song on the album but the fastest and the catchiest as well. The biggest, anthem-like choruses are found on “I’da Called You Woody, Joe” and “I Coulda Been A Contender” which both have the soft, restrained verses which lead into explosive choruses that are sure to be hits live. The best song on the whole album is “We Came To Dance” which is a bit slower than some of the mentioned tracks but it is the most powerful by far. The chorus will be stuck in your head for weeks after you hear it, especially after how well the verse builds up to it.
Sink or Swim
is an excellent album and The Gaslight Anthem have a very bright future ahead of them after a stellar debut album like this. The Gaslight Anthem are one of the best new punk bands out today and they could very well build a legacy as one of the best punk bands of all time if they keep putting out albums like this. Their follow up to this album, The ’59 Sound
is due to be out this August and is one of my most anticipated albums of the year.
Favorite Tracks: We Came To Dance, Wooderson, I'da Called You Woody, Joe, Boomboxes & Contenders.