The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt

The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem

 

Get Hurt is the fifth studio album by American rock band The Gaslight Anthem, released in the UK on August 11, 2014, through Virgin EMI, and in the United States on August 12, 2014, through Island Records. It is the first full-length studio album since the band’s 2012 release, Handwritten, and marks their first album on Island Records, which absorbed the band and its previous label, Mercury Records. Produced by Mike Crossey and inspired by vocalist and guitarist Brian Fallon’s divorce from his wife of ten years, the band was influenced by artists whose albums represented “career shifts”.

gaslightanthem-gethurt-packshot

The Gaslight Anthem isn’t a punk band anymore. They’ve gone lengths to shed that label since 2010’s American Slang introduced them to a wider mainstream audience. Frontman Brian Fallon traded screams for croons, and song tempos decelerated as the production got cleaner. The band cited an appetite for new sounds and stylistic experimentation, but hardcore fans felt betrayed. Gaslight, after all, only began distancing themselves from folk punk after corporate behemoth Universal Music Group started writing the checks. Their first release for the conglomerate, 2012’s Handwritten, was steeped in alt rock clichés and neo-Springsteenian tropes, hardly resembling the band that dropped The ’59 Sound.

Musicians can’t be faulted for change. Songwriters mature; people get tired of hearing the same thing over and over again. But, Handwritten sounded like it was puppeteered by producers. The layers of vocal overdubs, the lush keyboard backdrops, the perfect guitar tones: It was as if the Gaslight Anthem were being molded into Universal’s answer to the Foo Fighters, like the bigwigs saw Wasting Light at the top of the charts and said, “Oh, people still like rock music. Let’s do that.” Too often have the majors ensnared beloved indie bands and turned their music into commercial pap. A band might think they have control over the creative process, but do they really? When the money talks, does creativity even matter anymore? Does Stockholm syndrome set in?

In the case of The Gaslight Anthem, the answer is an unfortunate and resounding yes. On their fifth studio LP, Get Hurt, the quartet wander further into the realm of radio rock, evoking all the trite Mutt Lange-isms that come with that territory. Opener “Stay Vicious” actually pulls this off with its pounding metal intro and melodic verses, a total Def Leppard transition in the best way. But, man, are there a lot of overdubs on this album. Every instrument sounds like it was tracked 12 times, including Fallon’s vocals. Somebody (probably producer Mike Crossey) got crazy with the background vocals. Where there should be rests in the melody, spaces for Fallon to take a breath before singing the next line, background vox are stacked to the point of annoyance. The production is excessive but somehow sterile — a dealbreaker for Get Hurt, which already suffers from some loudness compression issues.

That’s all semantics in the face of the songwriting, which isn’t strong enough to overcome the album’s production. When Fallon told Rolling Stone that the album was “completely different than anything we had ever done before,” he was right: Forget what you know about The Gaslight Anthem. Every track here differs from the one before it. The title cut apes The National; “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” is post-grunge (in the worst way); “Red Violins” goes country. The diversity is admirable, but it makes for a disjointed record, and it’s not as if The Gaslight Anthem perform each of these varied styles exceptionally well. Fallon’s lyrics remain poignant and earnest, but it’s hard to concentrate on them with Crossey triggering so many instrumental flourishes.

Change can be good, even necessary. Change can also be awkward, as is the case with Get Hurt. The genre experiments don’t work, and the overblown production presents these efforts poorly, never adapting to whatever stylistic side road the band is going down. Get Hurt sounds like The Gaslight Anthem trying to figure out what kind of band they want to be. One thing is for sure: They don’t want to be the band they were before signing on that dotted line.

Essential Tracks: “Stay Vicious”

The Gaslight Anthem’s Top 10 Songs

The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem

 

When the needle drops on The Gaslight Anthem’s sophomore record, The ‘59 Sound, it’s not actually a needle. The soft hisses and crackles belong to a prerecorded sound effect, the inclusion of which would be entirely unnecessary if the band trusted you to listen on glorious, 180-gram vinyl. But the fact is that it’s 2008, you probably bought this on CD or mp3, and the band’s only way to be authentic is to be a little contrived.

Fast-forward six years and three records, and the same paradox applies. On 2010’s American Slang and 2012’s Handwritten, frontman Brian Fallon and his bandmates held fast to their fantasies about late-night diners and girls named Mary or Maria, creating a self-contained mythology of an America more real than the one we’ve got. As the tropes became more common, the band even risked unintentional comedy, with some critics in awe of how many times Fallon could drop the word “radio” on a single album.

But all of that is part and parcel of what makes The Gaslight Anthem great. They wear their influences on their sleeves, yet they refuse to hide behind those influences. They name-drop Charles Dickens, English author, and Andy Diamond, New Jersey punk promoter, and don’t skip a beat in the interim. The band’s latest effort, Get Hurt, marks their first significant foray into a new sound, so we’re revisiting the rest of their catalog to find the 10 best songs of their career so far.

My Morning Jacket Played The Paramount Theatre – Live Show Review

Jim James of My Morning Jacket @ On The Beach ’13 (Photo: C. Rotolo)

Jim James of My Morning Jacket @ On The Beach ’13 (Photo: C. Rotolo)

On The Beach: A Sandy Relief Concert

The circumstances encompassing Asbury Park’s Paramount Theatre, and the Jersey Shore as whole, on Wednesday evening were less than favorable.

200 miles to the south, House Speaker John Boehner placed a much needed $60 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package to the back burner, while 10 miles north on Ocean Avenue Sea Bright homes once again sat soggy from flooding after a recent holiday storm, as fences on Asbury’s storied boardwalk kept from view the shredded planks that not so long ago would have welcomed the hustle on bustle of foot traffic on a magical evening such as this.

However, New Jersey and it’s residents carry with them a resolve without equal. In the face of injustice, tragedy, shock and awe, we take action: like Governor Chris Christie who unknotted his GOP ties when his public was wronged.

We take action: like the good people at Rebuild Recover, Coastal Habitat For Humanity, The Food Bank Of Monmouth & Ocean Counties, Food For Thought by the Sea, and Waves For Water, who have worked tirelessly to help restore hope, lives, and our coastal communities. These groups and those who fly under their gracious flags possess a true calling, and it’s inspiring to say the absolute least.

We take action: like Danny Clinch, Tim Donnelly, and Tony Pallagrosi, the founders of On The Beach: A Sandy Relief Benefit, who stared down devastation in their hometowns and then looked toward one another with a single question on their tongues…”If not us, then who?”

California resident, and Waves For Water founder, Jon Rose may have put it best referring to the efforts along the Jersey Shore as a “shining example” of a community standing up in the face of disaster to construct a path toward recovery, a road to restoration, and traveling down it into the heart of Asbury’s East Side were the likes of My Morning Jacket, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Steve Earl, Joseph Arthur, Tangiers Blues Band, and lauded members of the Garden State music scene’s new guard in the Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon, River City Extension, and Nicole Atkins.

Tangiers Blues Band, who feature Clinch on harmonica and backing vocals, opened the evening offering a modest assemblage swampy Rock renditions of such classic cuts as The Beastie Boys “Fight For Your Right To Party” and a sloppily seductive rendition of Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up.” Toms River’s own River City Extension and Neptune’s Nicole Atkins followed, adjusting their usually lengthy live performances of grit-riddled Americana and vintage Blues-Pop balladry to time-shortened four-song sets featuring eruptive selections from the former’s sophomore LP, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger (2012), including the surging “Point Of Surrender” and the latter’s thunderous “Neptune City.”

The Akron-based Ben Harper collaborator, Joseph Arthur, and his wealth of flame-licked and effects-drenched Rock N’ Roll prefaced the Red Bank-bred and New Brunswick basement-honed Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon, who dipped into the well of his inked-up, flannel cloaked, Punk persona and removed soulful, acoustic guitar-led renditions of “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts,” “Great Expectations,” and the soon-to-be classic Handwritten composition “National Anthem.”

Fallon performed a short, intimate, solo acoustic set which, as SIMGE can attest to after witnessing the artist’s solo offering this past year at the recently defunct Press Room night club, is an impressive showcase of gritty artistic beauty.

Eddie Vedder recently joined Fallon and company onstage at Deluna Festival this past September for a rendition of the classic Pearl Jam cut “State Of Love & Trust,” a possible collaboration, pending Vedder’s availability, isn’t out of the question.

Activist, actor, and Folk auteur Steve Earle plucked away on his acoustic six string an ode to the grounds and the man who put Asbury Park on the musical map with a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper” before offering a series of songs from a forthcoming release that will, according to Earle, “piss a lot of people off.” The Nashville artist gave way to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band who acted as a key cog in this musical fundraising machine, providing a brass-coated demonstration in Dixieland Jazz while backing Earle on his post-Hurricane Katrina anthem, “This City,” in which the songsmith uttered the all too appropriate poetics “this city won’t wash away/this city won’t ever drown,” as well as allowing My Morning Jacket’s caped crooner, Jim James, the opportunity too jam upon “Louisiana Fairytale” and “St. James Infirmary.”

And the Preservation Hall collective, six members of which lost their homes in Katrina, wasn’t finished as My Morning Jacket would call upon the group, after distributing such laser-caked, psychedelia-laced Southern-Rock epics as “Victory Dance,” “I’m Amazed,” and “First Light,” to finish out its nearly two-hour performance with “Highly Suspicious,” jams on Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” and Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell,” and the concluding, theatre-quaking, “One Big Holiday.

Junot Diaz once wrote “The Boardwalk is where all of New Jersey came together. Where New Jersey, for better or worse, met itself.” On The Beach allowed us to congregate once again, in the face of tremendous devastation, hardships, and even tougher times ahead. But like Chris Christie, like the non-profit organizations and volunteers giving of themselves in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and like Clinch, Donnelly, and Pallagrosi, we’ll continue to act, to bolster, rebuild, and restore our beloved Jersey Shore.

NOTE: As reported last week, Eddie Vedder signed on as an underwriter of the On The Beach: A Sandy Relief Concert which took place on January 2nd in Asbury Park’s Paramount Theatre with My Morning Jacket, The Gaslight Anthem, Steve Earle, Tangiers Blues Band, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, River City Extension, Nicole Atkins, and more…maybe next year Ten Club members received a live recording from this monumental event.

The Gaslight Anthem – Live at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn – Full Concert

The Gaslight Anthem Live at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY, streamed Live on May 16 2012

Setlist
1. Great Expectations – Starts at 0:24
2. Old White Lincoln – Starts at 3:35
3. American Slang – Starts at 7:26
4. The Diamond Church Street Choir – Starts at 11:10
5. We Came to Dance – Starts at 14:54
6. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues – Starts at 20:43
7. The ’59 Sound – Starts at 25:22
8. Film Noir – Starts at 28:46
9. Miles Davis and the Cool – Starts at 33:22
10. 45 – Starts at 40:13
11. Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts – Starts at 43:33
12. The Patient Ferris Wheel – Starts at 47:34
13. I’da Called You Woody, Joe – Starts at 53:08
14. Biloxi Parish – Starts at 57:07
15. Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis? – Starts at 01:01:44
16. Wooderson – Starts at 01:04:43
17. The Queen of Lower Chelsea – Starts at 01:07:35
18. Here’s Looking at You, Kid – Starts at 01:14:46
19. The Backseat – Starts at 01:20:05

Encore:
20. The Spirit of Jazz – Starts at 01:28:16
21. She Loves You – Starts at 01:31:35
22. Baba O’Riley (The Who Cover) – Starts at 01:35:45

Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem talks about his moving to Brooklyn

“I needed to find my own story, away from my parents’ and friends’ stories.” ~ Brian Fallon

New Jersey has a long, proud tradition of inspiring people to get the hell out of New Jersey. For the hardest-working band in punk, that just might be their path to glory. [Spin Magazine excerpt]

Four days after Times Square was evacuated on account of an undetonated Pathfinder, it’s as swarming with tourists as ever, necks craning from atop Gray Line double-decker buses for better views of the billboards above and the poor flunkies sweating through Elmo and SpongeBob costumes below.

One of these buses, however, contains visitors not from Germany or Indiana, but from New Brunswick, New Jersey (Exit 9, thanks for asking). Mostly it’s an excuse to tool around the city on a day custom-made for just that. But at the risk of shining too bright a light on the inner machinations of a contemporary music magazine, the tour bus hired to leisurely chauffeur the Gaslight Anthem around New York City on this brilliant May afternoon is also a metaphor. This band, so associated with blue-collar Jersey lore and iconography that they bring up the Born to Run allusions so you don’t have to, have left the comfort of home to seek the big time. Metaphorically speaking. But also, they don’t live where they used to.

“Only in New Jersey would the state song be about leaving it,” says lead singer/guitarist/major­domo and recent Brooklyn transplant Brian Fallon, firing up another Marlboro Light and ducking low-hanging traffic lights along 42nd Street. He clutches a bottle of Coke while drummer Benny Horowitz, guitarist Alex Rosamilia, and bassist Alex Levine flout open-container laws and swig beers procured from a gouge-happy Times Square bodega — $55.56 for three six-packs, domestic. All four members have lived within an hour of the city most of their lives, save for the nearly 600 shows they played circa their 2008 breakthrough, The ’59 Sound. (“I think that’s what makes a Jersey band,” says Rosamilia. “They don’t ever go home.”)

And like many Garden Staters, they’re accustomed to being in the shadow of Manhattan rather than in its thrall: close enough to pop in and see a band play, but far enough that enterprising young punks had to make their own fun, staging all-ages shows at the local Elks lodge, as Horowitz did as a teenager. The band suggest a visit to Five Points, the infamous 19th-century slum (see: New York, Gangs of); told that it’s now an anonymous block in the financial district, they shrug and go back to their beverages.

“Welcome to our country!” bellows a pedestrian below.

“I want to know what these neighborhoods were like 40 years ago,” Fallon, 30, told me earlier. “I’m always looking for that thing because there used to be something to chew on, and now there’s nothing.”

“There’s almost too much going on here for me,” says Horowitz, 29, who recently moved from New Brunswick to nearby Jersey City to live with his girlfriend. “My plan was to never really leave central Jersey.”

Fallon, however, has grown restless, to his band’s benefit. To say that on their third album, American Slang, the Gaslight Anthem have outgrown and outstripped their VFW hall roots is only part of the story. They are alternately homesick and sick of home. Unsurprisingly for a band that has the word anthem in its very name, the record sounds big and sounds like it wants to be big, embracing comparisons to populist world-beaters like Springsteen and Tom Petty in a way that somehow doesn’t feel incongruous with the DIY punk world they still very much inhabit.

“Too many bands are embarrassed about success,” Fallon says. “If someone tells you they don’t aspire to be the biggest band in the world, it’s like, why even bother? Who doesn’t want to be the Rolling Stones? Where you get lost is when you try to be that.”

Put another way: They’re pulling out of here to win.

Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is a sprawling, lush 585-acre expanse that would be the crown jewel of any city that didn’t happen to also have Central Park. Brian Fallon moved two blocks away from its Grand Army Plaza entrance six months ago, but this is his first time here. It’s yet another brilliant spring afternoon, a few days before the bus ride, and the park is bustling with people on wheels: walkers, wheelchairs, strollers, bikes.

With most of his exposed skin covered in tattoos, Fallon looks like a refugee from a less genteel corner of the borough as he’s parked on a bench sipping a coffee. It could certainly be reasoned that shacking up in Brooklyn is de rigueur for any East Coast band on the make — sign a lease in Williamsburg, then wait a couple weeks to be featured in glossy roundups with Dirty Projectors. But this is not that Brooklyn, and Brian Fallon is not that wily a strategist.

Brian Fallon and his wife.

“I’m not gonna move to Williamsburg; those people freak me out,” he says. “But really, I don’t care where I live.” Fallon’s wife, who’s from the Bronx, was eager to move back into the city, and she found the apartment while he was in the thick of recording American Slang at the Magic Studio in downtown Manhattan. And with the next year and a half or so set aside for touring, he’s not exactly putting down roots. The move was more about where he wasn’t living. “I was looking to get lost,” he says. “No one I know is from here, no one I admire. Nothing familiar, no history I can gravitate to. I needed to find my own story, away from my parents’ and friends’ stories. Time for me to put on my own shoes.”

Q&A: Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon on Big Ambitions, Bonding With Fans

Fallon recording in Nashville.
Photo: RS

Last year, The Gaslight Anthem’s frontman Brian Fallon shut off his internet connection and immersed himself in “weird” poetry by T.S. Eliot and poured his most personal lyrics ever into the notebook. “There are no characters or painted pictures of some other time like before,” he told Rolling Stone. “I wanted to write something directly to you.” Once the bandmates had hashed out the new material in Jersey, they moved to Nashville into a rented house with photos of Faith Hill and Tim McGraw on the walls. “We didn’t know anybody down here,” said Fallon. “It was just us and the songs.” They blitzed through more than a dozen tunes in a month, with producer Brendan O’Brien, whom they worship for his work with Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine and Springsteen. “I thought he wouldn’t be impressed with anything,” said Fallon, “but he’s pure stoke.”

Brian Fallon of the Gaslight Anthem performs at Lollapalooza in Chicago.
Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Redferns via Getty Images

RS @ LOLLAPALOOZA
By ROLLING STONE

‘We want to be a big band, but we don’t want to be your best friends’

August 8, 2012

“It is what it is.” Brian Fallon likes this phrase. Chatting with Rolling Stone backstage at Lollapalooza Sunday after the Gaslight Anthem played before an estimated 20,000 fans, the 32-year-old frontman says it several times. The seeming indifference doesn’t necessarily jibe with his hard-ass rock star persona, but as Fallon puts it, he’s done trying to please: “You can’t placate people,” he says.

On Handwritten, the Gaslight Anthem’s new album, Fallon unspools his usual tales of struggle and triumph; they arrive in anthemic, Springsteen-ian form, but with a biting punk ethos. As the New Jersey rocker tells Rolling Stone, he’s not looking to be anyone’s new drinking buddy. “Let’s communicate,” he says of his desired band-fan relationship. “But we don’t have to sit down and have dinner.”

The Lollapalooza crowd gave you a lot of love.
You kinda can’t ask for better than that. There was a lot of people there.

You guys have played to massive crowds at this point. Does it still register in your head how many people you’re performing for?
You see whatever’s in front of you, and then you kind of don’t look around too much besides that. You kinda look to the left and then you look to the right. There’s, like, people all up in the trees. There’s just people for miles. They said that it was 20,000. I don’t know how they got that number. How do you gauge? What does 20,000 people look like? I’ve played in front of a lot of crowds, but I can’t assess how big they are. Once you get 10,000 and up, it just looks massive.

You opened with “Mae,” one of the slower songs off Handwritten.
It’s real slow. It’s odd. People are like, ‘Why are you doing that? Why are you starting with a slow song?’ It’s because that’s what we do. When we’re playing our own shows, we kind of have this flow that goes much like a play. For us it’s just night to night. It’s different. You’re coming to see us, but whatever you get, that’s what you get. Some nights you get, as they say, the hits set. Or some nights you get the weird set. I’m not gonna go out there and play the same thing every night. Some bands do that. It drives me crazy. Fortunately for us, there’s not like really a “hit song.”

And yet you’ve been able to steadily build this massive following. 2010’s American Slang felt like a monumental moment.
That was hype, though. That felt fake to me. This “saviors of rock & roll” and all this nonsense. Like, c’mon man! We have two records, really. It just seemed bound to not work like that.

Did the build-up to Handwritten feel more genuine?
With this record it was more, ‘Look, the record’s good and you should listen to it.’ And the rollout or whatever they do, the advertising, they didn’t really say anything about it: here’s the picture of the band, this is what the record’s called. Even our bio isn’t a bio. Nick Hornby wrote it. And it has nothing to do with a bio. He’s awesome. Can you believe it? It’s like having e.e. cummings write a bio. It’s awesome. Now it’s just less about the marketing. It’s not about any of that stuff anymore and I don’t care about it. You can’t placate people.

It must be nice to be in a position to say, “Look, take our music for what it is.”
It is what it is. If you like it, cool. If you don’t like it, well then, OK, there’s probably something else. I’ve always said it’s easier for bands to make a hard stance – like, we don’t do commercials or whatever, blah blah blah – when you’ve sold billions of records. It’s super-easy to be righteous when you’re rich. If you’re in our position, it’s just like, we gotta do this for what we love and not for any other reason, or else we’re just gonna be unhappy, you know?

Now that Handwritten has been released, where is your head at?
You’re in the ether. You don’t know what you’re dealing with. ‘Cause I don’t read any of the press or the reviews – just ’cause I don’t; I can’t do it. I’m not thick-skinned enough, and that’s not why we’re playing. So I don’t know what people are saying a lot of times. I’m not really into the numbers game of, like, what position our record is. But you find out at the end, you know? You’re like “Oh, all right! That’s good!” We had a Number Three record. That’s crazy! What’s that about? That’s exciting to me! I think that’s good. A lot of bands are kind of shameful about it. We want to be big . . . we want to be a big band, but we don’t want to be your best friends. You don’t know me.

Brand New, man. That band said it the best on that Devil and God (Are Raging Inside Me) record when he just goes, “I’m not your family, I’m not your friend, I’m not your lover, yeah!” That’s it: I’m just a man who knows how to feel. That’s my motto. Let’s communicate. But we don’t have to sit down and have dinner.

The honesty in your songs is a major reason why many have compared you to Springsteen.
And that’s kind of the vibe with the whole record – the whole band, actually. It is what it is, you know what I mean? That’s how I kind of view everything. It really is what it is at the end. You can’t shape it. You can’t change it. Your life is what it is.

ROLLING STONE