Hesitantly Ranked: The Gaslight Anthem

In our new semi-regular series Hesitantly Ranked we take you through all the studio releases by some of our favourite artists and pin their own records against each other in a battle royale (with cheese) where only one reigns superior to the rest.

No these aren’t exactly reviews and we’re absolutely not about to do that to you (or them), but we will put our top songs to the forefront as we tell you a tiny bit about each full-length studio record as we count down to our top choice.

To kick things off, it’s the band best known for being pals with guys like Springsteen and Bon Jovi if only for the fact that frontman Brian Fallon won’t stop talking about it; New Jersey natives The Gaslight Anthem.

At the time of writing, The Gaslight Anthem’s discography includes 5 releases starting with 2007’s Sink or Swim and ending with 2014’s Get Hurt. We’re not including The B-Sides record because if you can’t be assed to give this collection a real title or concept, than neither can we.

Here’s our rankings and top picks.

5. Sink or Swim (2007)

There’s a lot we like about this record and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get its share of spins, but when you compare the lyric writing and overall production of later releases, it undoubtedly falls a little short. The great part about this record is you can hear the earlier stages of this band defining their sound and if you stick with us through this ranking, you’ll see how well they’re able to tighten it up and make those heavy choruses really smack.

Highlight Track: Red At Night

It’s the last song on the record and it’s the one I look the most forward to every time.

4. Get Hurt (2014)

Get Hurt has a bunch of banger tunes on it, but at this point in the bands career it was almost too predictable for our own liking. I don’t really consider that this bands fault though, it just happened to hit at a time when “Big Rock” bands were bumpin’ hard on radio and every band with a hit seemed to have a lead singer with a gnarly rasp that obviously grew up listening to too much Poison or something. So the sound felt a little stale, unlike when “The 59 Sound” emerged with a well-timed and well-played nostalgic nod to early rock n’roll. That said, if that’s what you’re in the mood for, Get Hurt does the vibe well.

While a track like “Stay Vicious” will always get us banging our head and we sort of wish we wrote “Red Violins”, much like with Sink or Swim, the standout track for us on this record is a much tamer track. What can we say, we like Brian better with a simple story and an acoustic guitar a lot of the time.

Highlight Track: Break Your Heart

3. American Slang (2010)

American Slang is arguably the album where you can feel Brain settle firmly into his role as “new age Bruce Springsteen” and maybe for that reason alone it should hold the top spot in the arbitrary list, but there’s something to be said about leaning too heavily into your comfort zone and that’s where I find myself with this record. This entire album could have been written during The 59 Sound sessions, which is great, because that’s a hell of a record.

2. The 59 Sound (2009)

The Gaslight Anthem are really good at choosing high-energy rock’n’roll tracks to kick off their record; “Great Expectations” is probably the best one across all the albums and really sets the tone for this album. It’s the kind of song that you know if it was the first rock song a 10 year old kid heard, they’d lose their mind and blow all their birthday money on a bunch of new records to consume every part of it, and for us older folks, its the kind of song that makes you go, “damn, remember when music was cool?” and realize how jaded you’ve become.

Really the only bad part about this entire album if I had to choose something to appease my editor is the titles of the tracks itself. Miles David & The Cool? The Patient Ferris Wheel? Casanova, Baby? Here’s Lookin At You Kid? Tell me you’re into 1920’s French films without telling me you’re into 1920’s French Films, TGA – but we know you only do it because you think it makes you seem mysterious and campy.

Some day a young boy is gonna look at Brian Fallon and turn to his friends and be like, “egh, yeah, that’s my Uncle. He’s like 60 and obsessed with leather jackets and ironic patches from the post-war era for some reason”.

Highlight Track: Here’s Looking At You, Kid

1. Handwritten (2011)

Handwritten takes all the best high-energy tracks from The 59 Sound and blows them out of the water starting right off the top, once again, with “45”. This band is by far one of the best at capturing that early Americana sound that spent years building within the likes of Sun Studios in Memphis without it sounding like it’s trying too blatantly to snatch its character.

By this point in the bands career, Brian Fallon’s got a strong hold on his vocal cords and the lead guitars are tamed and crisped up like a fresh batch of salty potato chips – I know most people favour The 59 Sound as their preferred record by these guys, but I really don’t know how you can say that if you’ve spent even 10 minutes checking out Handwritten. Even lyrically this album is far better defined and the stories within more relatable without leaning on cheesy old-Hollywood references that most of the fanbase could give two shits about.

Highlight Track: Howl

The Gaslight Anthem is:
Current members
Brian Fallon – lead vocals, rhythm guitar (2006–2015, 2018, 2022–present)
Alex Rosamilia – lead guitar, backing vocals (2006–2015, 2018, 2022–present)
Alex Levine – bass guitar, backing vocals (2006–2015, 2018, 2022–present)
Benny Horowitz – drums, percussion (2006–2015, 2018, 2022–present)

Touring members
Ian Perkins – additional guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (2010–2015, 2018, 2022–present)
Bryan Haring – keyboards, backing vocals (2022–present)

Former members
Mike Volpe – lead guitar (2006)

Featured Photo by Danny Clinch. Stolen with love rom Billboard.com.

In case you didn’t know, The Gaslight Anthem make a bit of an appearance on the debut Neither Could Dylan album “Acceptance”.
Listen to the acoustic cover right here on CrookedForest.ca:

The cover is a featured track on the CD-release and can be purchased on our online store now.

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