There are undeniable similarities, both musical and topical, that connect a lot of of my favorite artists– The Hold Steady, American Aquarium, and these Jersey boys–The Gaslight Anthem. The thematic threads are youth, nostalgia, the romance of cars and front porches, premature death, the dark side of the party, and the agony of growing up.
The sound is that of Bruce Springsteen.
Now that Bruce has assumed his rightful position as the hottest 60-year-old to ever grind a camera during the Super Bowl halftime show, and has taken to making sad (albeit beautiful) music for Mickey Rourke, the next generation has stepped in to apply and evolve his legacy in a variety of forms. Springsteen’s influence on The Gaslight Anthem is unmistakable, and as Jersey natives, they can rightfully assume his legacy.
I describe these guys as Bruce Springsteen crossed with a punk band. Their latest album, The ’59 Sound, consists of a dozen addictive three-minute anthems tackling classic themes with energy and style. They sound as nostalgic for things that happened before they were born as they do for things that just happened.
I saw these guys twice this year in Portland, both times at the same venue. Circa nine months ago, the place was relatively full, and there were about a dozen young guys up front, jumping up and down, shouting all the lyrics out loud. Last time, about a month ago, the show sold out well in advance and I was surprised to find a full two-thirds of the crowd was singing along to every song. I resisted the cliched urge to complain about how popular they’d become and instead decided to be happy for them and look forward to their next swing through town. Hopefully at a slightly roomier venue.
Here are a few select tracks from The ’59 Sound.
And here is the image one dude’s fantasy realized. I dare you not to smile.