The Times They Are a-Changin’ – Rob Something, 1964
The first time I saw The Gaslight Anthem was at the Polish nightclub, Europa, in May of 2008 with my buddy JS1. They opened for The Bouncing Souls and Tim Barry. They stole the show that night, and we were hooked. Since then, I’ve seen TGA too many times to count. Hey, by the way, along with the Souls, TGA are T. Slice’s favorite band. I’ve got to give it up for my man. He’s so Jersey proud: The Souls, TGA, Titus Andronicus, and now Gates, too. That boy is coming along nicely.
So here we are, The Gaslight Anthem’s 5th LP in about 7 years; and that doesn’t include some side projects along the way. They’ve been busy. I’ve enjoyed the ride. I’m staring up at the Brooklyn show poster across the room now. So now we dig into Get Hurt. I’ve been looping it for the past few days.
“You say I’m hopelessly devoted to misery. Well I don’t wanna be so devoted no more.”
That line from “Rollin’ And Tumblin'” sticks out. It reads like a mission statement of change for a band that was deeply rooted in its own American slang. That said, this is a transitional LP for the boys. A time of exploration. Growth isn’t easy, but I’m not telling you anything that you don’t know about evolution. Brian Fallon’s songwriting to this point captured a spirit of remembering days gone by and living young and free. Like that guy Rob said, the times, well they’re different now. Over the years I’ve read different interviews and posts about the kinds of musicians that influenced and continue to be influences on TGA. You can Springsteen here til your “Rosalita” comes home, but I’ve always heard more Replacements blasting out of those classic car radios. This starts the phase that embraces those other influences.
I hear more Greg Dulli in this record, more Dylan, and way more, well, risk. Like middle 90s Pearl Jam coming to their collaborative time with Neil Young, The Gaslight Anthem look to expand their universe. The looking back, the romantic nostalgia, those pieces of youth still reside in the fabric of these songs. Maybe breaking free from the punk rock rule book will give them the same longevity as one of those bands that they see as their heroes.
There are new elements, arrangements, and more back-up singers than I ever remember on a TGA LP. I’m curious how these tunes will work live. There’s also a much more personal feel than the third person story telling of before. The more I listen, the more I realize that I don’t have that initial “there’s the song” moment. This record feels like a grower. Headphones. Spend time with it. Get to know it. With each listen, it feels solid.
I have to embrace these changes, too. I think that’s part of the deal, right? Be open to the change as listeners, as fans. We’re in this together.
I look at one of my favorite musicians, Walter Schreifels, as my favorite example of this. Along the way, Walter has evolved. Gorilla Biscuits is different than Quicksand is different than Rival Schools is different than his solo work, but all are distinctly Walter at that point in time. There are records I love more than others, but I always look forward to where we’re going next. We’re in it together.
So maybe this isn’t much of a review but more of a pledge to continue on in this relationship. We’ll all sort it out together.
Can’t wait to see you again.
Get Hurt comes out on 8/19 via Island Records. It’s streaming now on iTunes. The Gaslight Anthem come to the PNC Bank Arts Center on September 13th with Jimmy Eat World and Against Me!