The Gaslight Anthem’s newest release, B-Sides is a collection of 11 tracks recorded between 2008 and 2011 including: the studio track ‘She Loves You,’ and rare acoustic takes on some of the bands’ biggest songs as well as an inspired version of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Tumbling Dice.”
Despite the hodgepodge nature of the album, it remains consistent with their previous releases -the stripped down nature making for a more piercing and emotional record. Lead singer Brian Fallon’s raspy voice strikes the acoustic tracks with urgency reminiscent of Springsteen’s Nebraska, while the band provides little more then a backbeat and crunchy guitars.
This no frills approach is accentuated by the three tracks recorded live at KEXP studios. Fallon’s gritty yowl on “American Slang” sounds like early Tom Waits. While the stand out track “The ’59 Sound” rolls out in a perfected blend of unique lyrics and jangling acoustic guitar. “The Boxer” is another excellent rendition that chugs along in a burnt out haze, its rhythm section made up of a simple hammer pound and busted out kick drum.
The Gaslight Anthem released Singles Collection 2008-2011, a 7-inch vinyl box set earlier this year. The track listing differs slightly from The B-Sides, but is very much a similar musical statement -signaling a turn to a more Americana infused sound. After exploding into the national scene with their 2008 breakthrough album The ’59 Sound, the band has slowly distanced themselves from being a mainstay in the Punk Rock echelon.
After extensive touring and big selling albums, the band has found that the meat and potatoes of their music lie in their strong storytelling. Their soulful songs are love letters to hard times and their melancholy métier is done a just service on this deservingly sparse collection of songs.