With Foo Fighters on hiatus, no confirmed release date for the new Queens of the Stone Age album and Kings of Leon’s UK arena shows not for another seven long months, right now there’s something of a gap in the market when it comes to great American guitar bands. Thank heavens then, for The Gaslight Anthem, who have calmly stepped up and straightened their flannel shirts to become the next big American rock gods.
Back in July, the New Jersey four-piece released their first album on a major label. Their fourth overall, ‘Handwritten’ was an all-guns blazing sonic throwdown, an epic crystallisation of the ideas, sounds, themes and general gut-punching, heart-lifting brilliance showcased on their first three records. With the clout of Mercury Records behind them and Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen producer Brendan O’Brien in charge of the studio sessions down in Nashville, it was an undoubted, even shameless shot at the bigtime. But hell, you don’t get to be the hugest band in the world by half-arsedly releasing a handful of 7” records on your mate’s bedroom label, do you?
Part of the beauty of The Gaslight Anthem lies in their commitment to the finer details, their love of getting out the acoustics and fondness for covering other artists’ material, with rock forefathers Tom Petty, The Who, The Band, The Animals, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and the aforementioned Pearl Jam and Springsteen all being paid their dues as part of the band’s extensive covers canon. On November 23 frontman Brian Fallon and the boys are putting out a special three track EP for Record Store Day’s special Black Friday event. Called ‘Hold You Up’, it features an enticingly gruff cover of Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love’ as well as the raw ‘Misery’, further proof that they’re just as brilliant at salty tear-stained balladry as they are at highway speeding stadium punk riffs and the unabashed crowd candy that is a ‘woah-oh’ singalong.
On the back of pair of triumphant sets at Reading and Leeds Festivals, last month the New Jersey four-piece wrapped up a short tour of the UK, including two nights at the O2 Academy Brixton, where, by all accounts, they totally and utterly killed it. With plans to come back for next year’s Download Festival, expect them to return to the UK very soon. Here’s the five top reasons why they’re the saviours of American rock’n’roll.
1‘The ’59 Sound’ with Bruce at Glasto
Three years ago they were anointed by The Boss at Glastonbury, who joined them onstage to strum along to their breakthrough single, ‘The ’59 Sound’, much to the utter delight of everyone involved.
On their recent trip to the UK, Brian Fallon stopped by the XFM studios to deliver this stunning version of stripped back ‘Handwritten’ closer ‘National Anthem’. Prepare to swoon/melt/sigh and gush All Of The Emotions over your keyboard.
A masterclass in the perfect festival set. They had us at ‘walking onstage to Fugazi’.
Versatility is always a bonus, and Brian Fallon’s Tom Waits inspired side project, The Horrible Crowes, shows admirable frontman flexibility.
Now this is how you write a rock’n’roll song.
Our problem isn’t with the song, but with the interminably sappy video, evidently a ploy to broaden the appeal of a band fronted by a man with a neck tattoo.