The Gaslight Anthem

It’s no secret that a truly good band is hard to come by these days. Fortunately though, at least one band has risen to the challenge of bringing good music to the American youth: a band called The Gaslight Anthem.

The powerful lyrics and catchy beat laid down by the band are enough to make them better than ninety percent of other bands in the music scene today. Fortunately though, that’s not all the band has to offer.

Trying to classify TGA under a specific genre is difficult because they are different from any band I’ve ever heard before. “Pop punk” carries awful musical connotations, “folk rock” seems too campy, and “indie rock” is over-used. The punk rock fanzine “Sobriquet Magazine” has given them the best description I’ve heard: “the Gaslight Anthem are like something out of speculative fiction: this is what pop music would be if Springsteen hadn’t listened to his producer, let the Ramones record [“Hungry Heart”], and launched the C.B.G.B.’ers into megastardom.” But even if you’re not a fan of The Boss or The Ramones, don’t let that description scare you away, because the best way to know if you’ll like a band is to listen to them.

The Gaslight Anthem released their first album “Sink or Swim” in May 2007, and a four-track EP “The Señor and the Queen” followed in February 2008. The band finally started to generate some mainstream attention later in 2008 with the release of their second full-length album “The ’59 Sound” in 2008. “The ’59 Sound” received mostly rave media reviews and was named as one of the best albums of that year by several different publications.

The album’s meaningful lyrics and a brilliant blend of sophistication and simplicity put the band so far above the curve. Front man Brian Fallon’s soulful vocals are nearly indescribably perfect for bringing out the sweet emotion in every song. But thankfully, the music isn’t bland either. Guitar melodies interweave through every song and drummer Benny Horowitz lays down an intense beat to round things off in a perfect equation for rock and roll bliss. The band holds the listener captive from the first notes of “Great Expectations” to the final cymbal crash of “The Backseat."

I had the opportunity to see the band in Portland in late September. Despite being robbed of my rightful position in the front row and almost dying in the mosh pit as a result, I can still say that this was easily the most fun show I’ve ever been to. It was great to see the band play a small venue after they played shows at Glastonbury and Hard Rock Calling this summer. After they have played at festivals in the United Kingdom, the only thing I’m still wondering is why more music lovers in the United States haven’t fallen in love head over heels in love with this band.

If you’d like to sample a taste of The Gaslight Anthem’s unique rock and roll flair, I would recommend “The ‘59 Sound” as the best place to start. Six songs from the album are available for free listen on the band’s MySpace page. I challenge you to go listen. When all is said and done, I doubt you’ll consider it a waste of time.

Listen to The Gaslight Anthem's "Great Expectations" here.

The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.