The world’s best band* The Gaslight Anthem, premiered their new single 45 on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 on BBC1 last night… and it’s a freaking miracle.
The first single to be taken from their fourth studio album Handwritten, which will hit shelves July24th, 45 combined the melodic styling of American Slang with the heart wrenching tales of youth present on Sink Or Swim.
In short, this track is totes amazeballs. Seriously though. It’s incredible.
Optimistic power pop (Power Poptimistic?): Think Motion City Soundtrack roll around in the dirty a bit and get fashion advice from Gaslight Anthem. Boy In A Box are one of those rare local finds that make you shiver all over within two seconds of hitting play.
The video for Glitter, Gold, Ruin is a very standard band-on-stage clip, but it suits the music perfectly. Without distracting, the video compliments the most excellent tune and really showcases this up-and-coming Melbourne talent.
How do you put what happened that night into words? I’ve been staring at this page just shaking my head for the better part of 15 minutes now, just trying to explain the magic that is The Gaslight Anthem. Maybe if I just start from the start…
Diehard fans believe no one can hold a candle (or a gas light) to Gaslight Anthem. The hardest thing in the world would be to open up for a band revered by so many; Delaying the crowd from being in the presence of their musical icons. You expect docile applause, heckling and chants of the headline act – but once in a while a band comes along that does the support slot justice. Foxy Shazam was that band.
A late addition to the bill – Polar Bear Club had been scheduled to support the mighty Gaslight, but pulled out within the last month – Foxy Shazam basically had a blank slate with the crowd at Sydney’s Metro theatre. I mean, who had ever heard of them? Truth: No one who was in the crowd will ever forget them.
Brian Fallon (Gaslight Anthem front man), put it best when he described Foxy Shazam’s front man Eric Sean Nally as “the love child of Steve Tyler and James Brown”. Writhing around on stage like a epileptic and jumping around like a wound up toy, Nally fronted a rag-tag group of misfits and apparent deviants who not only put on a fucking brilliantly entertaining show, but who also were all incredibly accomplished musicians.
Stage antics highlights: Frog jumps, body mechanics, push ups, commando rolls, headstands, back climbing, story-telling, playing your keyboard through your legs, playing your keyboard while on your head, playing on your keyboard while standing on it & a doo-wop acappella finale. Amazing.
As the very foxy, Foxy Shazam left the stage, the sold out metro started to sweat with excitement. By the time red curtain opened and the New Jersey four-piece swaggered on, the anticipation was palpable.
“We’re the Gaslight Anthem and we’re from New Jersey. We don’t have any jokes, so we’re just going to play some songs,” Brian quietly said to the screaming crowd before bursting into their first track.
Combining the best parts of BruceSpringsteen and The Misfits, Gaslight Anthem are the epitome of the Jersey Sound – Working class heroes on a journey through love and heartbreak from the crowded streets of Manhattan to the boardwalks of the Jersey Shore.
Kicking out tracks from all three of their LPs as well as the amazing ‘Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts’ from their EP Senor and The Queen, the hour and a half set at the metro not only cemented Gaslight as one of the best live bands getting around today, but also proved that their entire catalogue is – to quote Sum 41 – all killer, no filler.
Front man Brian Fallon offered a complete contrast to Nally of Foxy Shazam. While both are incredible storytellers and had the Metro eating out of the palm of their hands, Fallon did so with as much humble modesty as Nally did extraverted flair.
While Nally’s nervous energy made him seem slightly pretentious and Hives-esque, the huge smile on Fallon’s face when the crowd took over vocal duties on Here’s Looking At You, Kid made you believe he was genuinely surprised by how embraced his band were with audiences so far from home.
Faux – closing their set on Backseats from The 59 Sound before returning for a six song encore (Really? That’s practically a whole other set), The Gaslight anthem galloped into their final song – a hard hitting cover of The Who’s Baba O’Reily. And then, alas, Gaslights love affair with Sydney came to an end as they took their bows and left the stage – promising to return to our shores sooner rather than later.
What a fucking great band. What a fucking great show.
Soundwave 2011 was all in all a fairly damn exhausting festival, featuring many ups and downs. The excellent venue change was combated by overpriced mid-strength drinks and even more over-priced food. And the bands? Ahhh, the bands…
I arrived right at the start to check out Feeder. Was good fun, there was next to no one in the crowd when they started but by the time they were done there were a couple of hundred people there who goaded them into playing ‘Buck Rogers’. Lead singer “You’d better sing along to this one because we’re playing a pop song at a heavy metal festival”. Quality stuff.
Post Feeder it was time for The Gaslight Anthem. Packing out the tent at stage three, Gaslight put on a decent set, pretty tight but not totally engaging. The crowd loved it though. The setlist was weighted heavily by songs from their third album, which I think is their weakest by a good margin. Played a new song which I thought was even weaker still. Spent a fair part of the set laughing at the three people in front of me who were dressed/dancing like they should have been at Parklife. Awesome Fluoro.
Went for a wander and came back in for the last five odd songs of Sum 41. Tent was absolutely packed, which I’d put down to no one else of note playing at the same time. Set could be summed up as crowd loved the old stuff, completely indifferent to anything new. Fat Lip singalong was excellent fun though, especially as I was hanging out with mates from high school.
Millencolin then came on and played what for mine was the set of the day. ‘Pennybridge Pioneers’ played (nearly) in full from start to finish. Their 40 minute set time meant they had to cut ‘Highway Donkey’ from the set as the album clocks in pretty much bang on forty minutes. Playing ‘Pennybridge’ meant that come time for set closer ‘The Ballad’ I had to quickly run as far away from the stage as I could because that song is so goddamn sad. That poor poor kid, being last selection for some non-descript ball game. Heartwrenching stuff. (Side note: Me and my mate went to the artist signing later in the day and had a chat to them and asked them why they cut ‘Pepper’ from the set, and they were like “We didn’t, we cut ‘Highway Donkey’!”. We felt like noobs. Totally nice guys though.)
Post Millencolin, I purchased a $10 Kransky (which was 100% a hot dog) and sat down to watch Primus. That shit was way too weird so I quickly bailed. Then went for a wander around the grounds before ending up at Dimmu Borgir. Dimmu were awesome, half for their skills & brutality and half for bringing the Norwegian black metal lulz.
After perhaps six songs of Dimmu, my mate was very keen to go check out Slash so we popped along to the mainstage for some aural pain. Slash is an excellent guitarist and an amazing person purely for the fact that he’s still standing. Unfortunately he’s not good enough to carry a band, especially when that band is filled with absolute plonkers. The lead singer reminded me of Steven Tyler’s retarded younger brother trying to do an Axl Rose impression and the rest of the band were complete tools. When they started playing ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’ I remembered how much I hate Guns ‘N Roses and begged my mate to leave.
Leaving there early meant we were able to catch the first three songs of Social Distortion (fine, but indifferent) and Ill Nino (hilarious) before the mighty Slayer were set to perform. As people turned post Ill Nino to the adjacent stage containing absolutely no equipment it was obvious something was amiss. After 15 minutes of waiting Andrew Haug bravely apologised to the crowd for Tom Araya’s inability to perform that afternoon due to being sick. This started a minor barrage of cups and plastic bottles being thrown towards the stage, though the onslaught surely would have been greater had it not been Haugy up there delivering the bad news.
The Slayer setback meant I was free to check out Zack De La Rocha’s new group One Day As A Lion. Though slightly tentative going into it (mainly due to the fact that the band has only released one twenty minute EP and they were playing a forty five minute set), the band managed to bring a fresh new sound championed by De La Rocha’s charismatic, energetic rhyming.
One Day As A Lion let way for Queens Of The Stone Age to serve out a quality set of high calibre rock and roll. Josh Homme certainly knows how to bring the swagger and Joey Castillo may be one of the most rocking drummers in the world. The set won nearly the whole crowd over, the exception being the bogan Maiden fan in front of me who would yell at the screen any time Homme would appear and yell openly at Dave Grohl that he was terrible. Mistaken identity fail, human being fail.
QOTSA’s exit meant only one thing: MAIDEN! MAIDEN! MAIDEN! MAIDEN! The crowd were eagerly packed in awaiting the metal legends and after a short introduction video the band hit the stage, bursting straight into ‘The Final Frontier’. And oh sweet Jesus, how lame it was. If I wanted to see a bunch of old men embarrass themselves I would go and visit my grandfather at his nursing home. But I don’t (because it smells terrible), and as a result couldn’t get away from Iron Maiden fast enough, and subsequently left Soundwave even though there were many excellent bands still to see.
On the way home I found out I share my birthday not only with Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson, but also footballing disgrace Kevin Muscat, the lead singer of the band Hatebreed and alleged terrorist David Hicks. August 7th: The day of the scumbag.
The New Jersey boys don’t seem to be able to put a foot wrong. Their newest album, American Slang, is a journey through love and heartbreak from the crowded streets of Manhattan to the boardwalks of the Jersey Shore. With every release, The Gaslight Anthem progress as song writers, really delving into the psyche of their characters and with each new gravelly lyric describing every Springsteen soaked piece of imagery, you think nothing can get better than this. That is until the next verse.
Key Tracks: Stay Lucky, Spirit Of Jazz, When We Were Young
2. Caitlin Rose – Own Side Now
This Nashville native has produced an absolutely stunning debut album which combines Folk sensibilities with Country heritage. A beautiful album detailing love and loss and the changes you make in order to find yourself. With a heavy focus on acoustic guitar, the album drifts along, pulling you into her detailed and heart wrenching world. Caitlin Rose is by far the best new comer of 2010.
Key Tracks: Own Side, Shanghai Cigarette, Things Change
3. The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever
So your favourite characters Charlemagne, Gideon and Holly may not be referred to by name in the fifth studio album from The Hold Steady, but Heaven Is Whenever is still one ass-kicking, fist-punching, banal-assassinating record about life, love and all the music in-between. The first record without keyboardist Franz Nicolay since their 2004 debut, Heaven Is Whenever is the sound of a bunch of guys growing up. “Heaven Is Whenever / We can get together/ sit down on the floor/ and listen to your records”. Heaven is The Hold Steady.
Key tracks: Hurricane J, We Can Get Together, The Sweet Part Of The City
4. Delta Spirit – History From Below
If the first track from this album was non-existent, History From Below would have been further up the list, possibly even number one. However, looking past the three and a half minute flaw, Delta Spirit’s sophomore album is quite exquisite. More cohesive and mature than their debut ‘Ode To Sunshine’, the album’s 11 tracks move through folk, rock and swampy blues, with each song in itself a contained narrative. Seductive, intoxicating and god-damn addictive, History From Below is a scarily hard album to fault.
Not one man should have all this power, well he shouldn’t, but it appears that he does. Kanye’s fifth studio album is a massive return to form after the train wreck that was 808s and Heartbreaks. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy refuses to stay locked in its box, breaking your West-perceptions with every new track. With cameos galore, hooks to sink your teeth into and verses your mother would smack you for mouthing the album is angry, passionate, sexy and crude; this is the Kanye we have been longing to return.
Key Tracks: Runaway, All Of The Lights, Monster
6. The Tallest Man On Earth – Wild Hunt
Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man On Earth, is a Swedish folk god. There I said it. Though only one musician plays on the entirety of the album, it is one of the most interesting, intoxicating and absolutely overwhelming releases of the year. Wild Hunt feels as though you’re coming in from the cold. Though the album has an underlying feeling of isolation and solidarity, at the same time it feels as though it engulfs you; seeping into every last inch of your soul. Absolutely haunting vocals combine with breathtaking song writing to produce the finest Swedish release since Dancing Queen.
Key Tracks:Kids On The Run, The Wild Hunt, Troubles Will Be Gone
7. The Like – Release Me
What do you mean the 60’s ended? Not according to The Like they didn’t. 60’s girl group sensibilities with a modern twist, The Like’s second album, Release Me is, from start to finish, an incredibly accessible, honest portrayal of the life of a single girl. From emotionally inept boys who can’t commit to putting the shame in walk of shame to just not really digging the guy you’re seeing, Release Me is an album every woman should own. Shake your tail feather to the sounds of tomorrow baby!
Key Tracks: He’s Not A Boy, I Can See It In Your Eyes, Don’t Make A Sound/Why When Love Is Gone
8. Ben Folds & Nick Hornby – Lonely Avenue
The collaboration album between American musician Ben Folds and English author Nick Hornby moves between comical cultural satire and heart wrenching tales of humanity almost effortlessly. The 11 tracks which make up Lonely Avenue are each a contained narrative, proving the story telling talents of Hornby and the balladeer skills of Folds. The best part of this collaboration? The fact that neither artistic voice overpowered by the other. Pretty cool stuff.
Key Tracks: Levi Johnston’s Blues, Picture Window, From Above
9. Violent Soho – Violent Soho
Although technically a repackaging of an album released in 2008, Violent Soho’s self titled album still sounds current, relevant and exciting. Bringing back the soul of the early nineties so much so that your jeans rip themselves when you hit play, Mansfield’s favourite sons, Violent Soho, combine what is great about Australian music – the raw honesty and individuality – with classic grunge roots. It’s a beautiful thing. Must be listened to loud.
Key Tracks: Love Is A Heavy Word, Jesus Stole My Girlfriend, Muscle Junkie
10. Janelle Monea – The Archandroid
At 18 tracks long, The Archandroid is a contender for longest album of the year – but every track is wanted. Janelle Monea’s ability to effortlessly jump from soul to pop to R&B while still retaining a signature sound is mind blowing – her characteristic swagger and incredible vocal ability shine through in this genre melding album. Check it out!
Key Tracks: Tightrope, Cold War, Faster
Best Of The Rest:
Little Red – Midnight Remember
Second album from Melbourne boys – Structured, colourful and engaging, the record is nn amazing representation of the talent we have locally.
Foals – Total Life Forever
More chilled out, melodic and slow burning than their debut, after a few listens to this album you WILLbecome addicted!
Alberta Cross – Broken Side Of Time
Mashing up blues, rock and folk into an incredible collection of songs, this album has absolutely no filler. Amazing record!
My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys
The chameleons of emo/pop/punk. MCR have turned their back on the black parade and embraced the synth, pop happy kill joys. MCRmy raise your filthy paws!
Taylor Swift – Speak Now
Like reading the diary of your sister, this album sometimes feels voyeuristic and intensely personal, the talented singer songwriter defines genre and lays her soul on the line.
It’s confirmed, yesterday’s leaked camera phone press clipping is accurate. Iron Maiden, Queens of The Stone Age, Slayer, Primus & Slash will be headlining Soundwave 2011.
Also on the bill are post punk pioneers New Found Glory, Sum 41, Penny Wise & Social Distortion as well as post punk legends Gang of Four & grunge pioneers Melvins. Most exciting of all for us? The Gaslight Anthem are making their second trip down under. Yes. Life is good.
So here is Soundwawve 2011 line up, officially this time:
Queens Of The Stone Age
The Gaslight Anthem
Thirty Seconds To Mars
Gang Of Four
New Found Glory
Third Eye Blind
Less Than Jake
Protest The Hero
The Starting Line
Never Shout Never
All That Remains
High On Fire
A Skylit Drive
There For Tomorrow
I See Stars
Rise To Remain