A reoccurring conversation my generation have these days is how the music of today does not mean anything. Everything these days seem to be either scantily clad girls taking about how slutty they are, rapper talking about how rich they are, whiny bands complain about… who knows what. Excuse my grandpa moment, but back in my day, Pearl Jam meant something. Counting Crows talked to me. Public Enemy were important. It has been awhile since I have heard anyone who sounds important. Sure this could just be a generational thing much like our parents complains about how no one makes music like The Beatles anymore, plays like Eric Clapton, or sings like Marvin Gaye.
But then I heard The Gaslight Anthem with every song sounding more important than the last. Seriously, how can you not get excited about lyrics like, “Give me the fevers that just won’t break and give me the children you don’t want to raise. And tell be about the cool he sings to you in those songs if it’s better than my love.” “You ain’t supposed to die on a Saturday night.” When they sing about having her name tattooed inside his arm, you want to head down to your local parlor. He may sing “Cool is dead go baby go on asleep,” cool may have been dead, but The Gaslight Anthem may just resurrect it.
If all is right with the world, The Gaslight Anthem will finally have some breakout success with the release of the first major label release Handwritten. And let’s face it; the world is in some dire need of great rock and roll music. Right now there is The Black Keys and that is it. And for those ready to rock, Handwritten is full of enough Aye’s, Whoa’s, Sha-la-la’s, Eh-hey’s, and Oh-oh-oh’s to get your fist pumping.
As the title track suggests, these songs have traveled from heart to limb to pen. The opening track "45" is a hard driving rumination of the ending relationship comparing it to turning a record over to something new. And the album does not let up from their with guitar riffs coming fast and aggressive. They may be on a major label now and are in the studio with uber-producer Brendan O’Brien (Rage Against the Machine), but these Jersey boys are still wearing their Bruce Springsteen and The Replacements influences on their sleeve.
Even though it does not take away from songs on this album, The Gaslight Anthem should be wary of becoming a parody of the heart on their sleeve lyrics in the future like Coldplay became a self-parody on their third album. They did come close of this album with lines like, “I’d just die if you ever took your love away,” and, “What’s left for you to take if I put too much blood on the page?” Actually some of the best songs on Handwritten are on the rare songs from the band that make you put your fists down and raise your lighters up like on the final two songs Mae where they “wait for kingdom come with the radio on” and the beautifully simple National Anthem. If these two songs are a hint of where they may go next I cannot wait to hear it.
Song to Download – "45"
Handwritten gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.