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The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem: Seņor and the Queen (2008)
Sabot Productions

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: Ben_ConoleyBen
(others by this writer | submit your own)

The Gaslight Anthem's breakthrough debut, Sink or Swim, hit me hard, reigniting a spark that I hadn't felt from a new band in a long, long time. It caused a sense of genuine excitement towards both music and life to swell inside me and continues to stir up the same feelings after nearly a year in he.
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The Gaslight Anthem's breakthrough debut, Sink or Swim, hit me hard, reigniting a spark that I hadn't felt from a new band in a long, long time. It caused a sense of genuine excitement towards both music and life to swell inside me and continues to stir up the same feelings after nearly a year in heavy rotation.

The Seņor and the Queen EP has a tough job ahead of it. It seems as though anyone who is into the Gaslight Anthem is really into the Gaslight Anthem. I can't recall a band who has been as universally accepted amongst those who I have introduced them to as they have.

So where does the band go after an album like Sink or Swim? I can't speak for the band, but if I had to wager a guess at their intended direction it could (and will be) described in one word: "up." It's as though the New Brunswick, New Jersey band has taken a shot from a bird's eye view of who they are. They've created a reflection of what they've accomplished prior, capturing not only the spirit and sound of Sink or Swim but also putting that album's sound into context while building on it.

Musically, Seņor and the Queen, while not a complete change in direction from Sink or Swim, takes the band in a new, bolder direction. It's not as hard-charging as some of the faster songs on Sink or Swim, like "We Came to Dance." It also lacks many of the elements that may have caused someone to initially compare the band to Hot Water Music. The fastest song is the title track, which opens the album and is most reminiscent to the band's previous work (with a tempo similar to "Wooderson," complete with a sing-along chorus).

The second track, "Where for Art Though Elvis," is the catchiest song on the EP. While it slows things down during the first verse, it features a wonderful "bah bah, bah bah badadada" buildup into a chorus where Fallon sings, "I've got nothing for you darlin' but a story to tell, 'bout the rain on the pavement and the sound as it fell." His lyrics are still the best part of the songs, but more on that to follow.

"Say I Won't (Recognize)" is the third track and the best demonstration of lead guitarist Alex Rosamilia's incredible talents. Much like the title track, it starts off very reminiscent of Sink or Swim material, but has the band venturing into new, more melodic territory all the while maintaining their core sound. The album ends with "White T-Shirts and Blue Jeans," which gives Fallon's lyrics the opportunity to take center stage.

Fallon's lyrics are by and large the best part of every Gaslight Anthem song. Of course, it helps that they are accompanied by great music, but his words read like a 1970s-era Springsteen transplanted to the present day mixed with tales of a road-tired touring band. His lyrics create romantic tales of characters so sincere in their emotions (especially love) that you'd think they were fictional if you weren't so sure he was speaking from the heart. Lines such as, "Show me your hands, I wanna see how you dance pretty baby by the light of the moon" and "We sing with our heroes 33 rounds per minute, we're never going home until the sun says we're finished. I'll love you forever if I ever love at all" invoke the innocence and sense of Americana that makes Fallon's lyrics feel like home. In the end, that's one of the best things about this band -- the comfort they provide.

If there is anything one might complain about in regards to the EP, it's that it doesn't provide as many as the uplifting and explosive choruses as Sink or Swim did. These songs aren't leftovers from previous efforts, though. Do I like the four best songs on Sink or Swim better than these four songs? On some days, absolutely, on others not at all. Like any other band, the Gaslight Anthem is going to see some complaining that "album x is so much better than album y," but that's unavoidable.

While I would have loved a full-length, I suppose it's a little soon for that. For now, Seņor and the Queen should more than tide anyone over in addition to introducing the band to countless more fans.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Against Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Gaslight Anthem - American SlangAgainst Me! - As The Eternal CowboyAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitAgainst Me! - Searching For A Former ClarityThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldThe Loved Ones - Keep Your Heart

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
thomassawyer (September 8, 2009)

this record still ignites a spark in me after a year in my car

LittleSteven (January 30, 2009)

True storytelling Rock' n' Roll makes me think of Springsteen at his best!!!

demian (January 20, 2009)

oh good lord, amazing from start to beginning? I said that? I meant from start to end. what a brain-barrassment

demian (December 29, 2008)

amazing from start to beginning, despite being really short

PtvnSux94 (December 3, 2008)

Short but amazing, each song is great.

flannagin94 (September 29, 2008)

Only four songs but four great songs

danpib08 (July 7, 2008)

I want PIB to move up to #1

Torgo (July 3, 2008)

Punx!!

deadelectromix (April 2, 2008)

I like the song "Say I Won't (Recognize)" but am I the only one who has it remind them of "West Bay Invitational" by Jawbreaker?

skankbook (March 26, 2008)

The only downfall is it's only 4 songs. Of course, beggers can't be chosers, and 4 awesome Gaslight Anthem songs are better than a world without them. My one complaint is the guitar on the last track seems pretty off with the melody of the song. Otherwise, I love this EP.

TommyPickles (March 22, 2008)

Amazing

wrongstring (March 19, 2008)

its great. like an appetizer while waiting for the next full length!

Skawas (March 14, 2008)

good but not as good as "sink or swim"

thus_spoke_sean (March 12, 2008)

good songs, but i don't like the sound here, the bass sounds like ass.

Mookie_Blaylock (March 11, 2008)

Just got this 7" in the mail. Love it!

NotPatriotic (February 14, 2008)

I dont understand the love for this band. Get into modern action, that new 7 inch is gonna be sweet.

ashtraymonument (February 14, 2008)

I finally d/l it while I continue to wait for it in the mail..I like it, but I don't know, i think It needs more time to grow on me

J4M35 (February 14, 2008)

my local record store is getting in the CDs of This Charming Man

flowerfeeder (February 14, 2008)

Love this band.

ibitchslappedyourmama (February 14, 2008)

i don't get it

DrAnonymous (February 14, 2008)

You know what, you're right. I take back my comment.

Holding This Charming Man's EP in my paws now I see the members are Brian, Mike, Chris, and Rob. TGA is Brian, Alex L, Benny, and Alex R.

Different band I suppose, even if stylistically and even some of the songs are identical. I suppose Brian does lots of the writing leg work.

ashtraymonument (February 14, 2008)

its really hard to find any information about This Charming Man. I don't know if its the same band, or a different band with the same singer. Every Little Secret is still really good

DrAnonymous (February 14, 2008)

Can somebody explain to me why everybody calls "Sink or Swim" this band's debut album? Has nobody heard of "Every Little Secret"? They changed their name but it's basically the same band. Hell, under the old name they recorded some songs off of "Sink or Swim" for their demo release, so they obviously should be counted as the same band, just with a name change.

ben_conoley (February 13, 2008)

If you think Marriage should be getting this kind of praise, you should read my review of Marriage.

R3vengeTherapy (February 13, 2008)

I can't understand the ridiculous amount of hype this band is getting. I mean...Sink or Swim definitely isn't bad, but it just doesn't feel like it's anywhere near as amazing as everyone seems to be saying.

Attack In Black's "Marriage" should be receiving all this love, as I think it blows both this and Sink or Swim clear out of the water.

jumptheshark (February 13, 2008)

Love this. It took a few listens to really get into, but now I can barely stop listening to it. I'd probably give it a 10, but I don't think EPs deserve that high of praise.

travis_x (February 13, 2008)

I liked it, but I am not too huge on the title track. Maybe if I listen to it on repeat, I will but from first impressions, I wasn't too stoked on it.

The other songs are ruling.

shitlips (February 13, 2008)

uh wft is wrong with everyone?

Slacker (February 13, 2008)

[i]Great little follow up, and a nice way to brace the fans for what they may explore in their next full length. But "we're having a party, everybody's swinging"? It just reminds me a little too much of my parent's listening to that Rod Stewart song with the same lyrics[/i]

The song Having A Party is actually originally by Sam Cooke. Rod Stewart covered it. So I had the same thing you did, but my memory referred to Sam Cooke.

supafly (February 13, 2008)

Great band, great EP. There.

obiwanspicoli (February 13, 2008)

Great lyrics are sorely missed in punk rock these days. I like the comparison to the boss.

davebrave4 (February 13, 2008)

How many different ways can you say they changed but stayed true to their roots?
No but seriously, good review dude. My only question: what do you mean when you say that they put the album's sound into context? What context are they puttting it in?

llmp (February 13, 2008)

This took my a while to get into as opposed to Sink or Swim which you can just jump right into, but for an EP it's really damn good. "Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts" is an amazing closer.

colin (February 13, 2008)

after reading so much resounding applause for this i took a few more listens and while it has something decent to it, i think the mixing is really poor. the vocals are far too high and the songs are a bit too slow. i don't know. i have no clue how people compare this to sink or swim, let alone say it's better. this sounds like the leftovers of sink or swim they put in the microwave to eat for breakfast the next morning.

skaboom (February 13, 2008)

It doesn't grab me as much as "Sink or Swim" did. Granted, that album came out of nowhere and just blindsided me with how great it was while this one had enormous expectations, so that may color my impression.

That said, I have faith in the guys, so I'll give it a few more listens before I make a final decision on the songs. As of right now I think it's pretty good, just slightly less enthusiastic than their debut.

cuapunkradio (February 13, 2008)

Van Gough? I think you mean absinthe, but yea jager is a pretty fucking terrible drink. who wants to drink Liquorice-flavored spirits? score is for wiskey/whiskey!

sickboi (February 12, 2008)

Ryan, you are officially guilty by association. I can't even bring myself to drank that Van Gogh shit now, and I used to love it.

-chris

victim (February 12, 2008)

But "we're having a party, everybody's swinging"? It just reminds me a little too much of my parent's listening to that Rod Stewart song with the same lyrics

Oh..

They played that and I thought it WAS a cover

onegirlarmy (February 12, 2008)

Great little follow up, and a nice way to brace the fans for what they may explore in their next full length. But "we're having a party, everybody's swinging"? It just reminds me a little too much of my parent's listening to that Rod Stewart song with the same lyrics

haha I thought the same thing but didn't want to say it. still a good song regardless.

cuapunkradio (February 12, 2008)

" I've seen them play "Blue Jeans" once, and it was awesome.

In regards to the next LP, they played a song from it last month, and it was faster than anything I've heard from them. They also did a pretty kickass cover of Petty's "American Girl"."

-i guess the jager haze wasn't all that bad. the petty cover was amazing as was blue jeenzz

nocigar (February 12, 2008)

fuck..wrong score.

onegirlarmy (February 12, 2008)

Barrie, I've seen them play "Blue Jeans" once, and it was awesome.

My hatred for you grows by the minute. :P

nocigar (February 12, 2008)

This, much like Sink Or Swim, I can't stop listening to. AWESOME shit.

vulture_dude (February 12, 2008)

Great little follow up, and a nice way to brace the fans for what they may explore in their next full length. But "we're having a party, everybody's swinging"? It just reminds me a little too much of my parent's listening to that Rod Stewart song with the same lyrics. Yeah, it's likely intentional, but it's gonna take a while to get those lyrics associated with The Gaslight and not The Rod.

Can't get enough of Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts though.

24HourPriapism (February 12, 2008)

ps: i know strung out and gaslight anthem are absolutely nothing alike, but it was just the first example i could think of where i liked one aspect of a band, but the vocals completely took me out of it.

respect.

24HourPriapism (February 12, 2008)

what's up with the .org love for this band? am i missing something? they're just....okay. they're a decent band, great wistful lyrics, but vocals are boring as hell. i just can't get into it.

it's like an alternate reality strung out, where strung out are obviously musically talented, but their lead singer's apparently stuck in first gear all the time.

please tell me i'm not the only one who's just kinda meh about these dudes.

BarleyPat (February 12, 2008)

Damn I wish I got this today. I heard it on that radio show when they played all four songs. Can't wait to hear it again. I liked the title track the best, but that was only after one listen. I know I'm being redundant, but these guys deserve every ounce of hype they get. This is pop for people who don't like pop.

dontpanic29 (February 12, 2008)

While i haven't heard much of this, it sounds good

However, this band sounds EXACTLY like Against Me! Jeepers. I never knew. I mean, they should be sued for gods sake.

sickboi (February 12, 2008)

Love this EP. "Say I Won't (Recognize)" could be my favorite song by the band. A little history, this EP was recorded while on tour this past summer, with the songs being practiced nightly at shows along the way. Barrie, I've seen them play "Blue Jeans" once, and it was awesome.

In regards to the next LP, they played a song from it last month, and it was faster than anything I've heard from them. They also did a pretty kickass cover of Petty's "American Girl". The only problem with these guys is their complete lack of respect for quality, hand-crafted glassware.

-chris

kid_im_a_mess (February 12, 2008)

freakin' great review of a great e.p.

i cannot stress how much i adore this bands music.

can't wait for the next one.

danperrone (February 12, 2008)

"blue jeans and white t-shirts" is by far the best song they've ever done

this ep rocks

BobLoblaw (February 12, 2008)

Have these shipped out yet?

My score is based on how much I'm expecting to enjoy this.

WainscottRockCity (February 12, 2008)

This band's songs get scratched into your soul.

onegirlarmy (February 12, 2008)

telegraphrocks - I'm shocked (in a good way) that you even bothered to give this a chance considering how vocal you are about your hatred of Gaslight, or have been in the past on this site. Interesting to see that you like it and are willing to give the LP another chance.

galen (February 12, 2008)

ep should be called "more songs about dancing"

lul. i'll buy this later tonight.

cuapunkradio (February 12, 2008)

"blue jeans and white t-shirts" is the best song to come out this year
reminds me of lucero 'further west' era. great job gents

AnotherBoringStory (February 12, 2008)

Fuck yes.

PersonalResponsibility (February 12, 2008)

Solid.

Hopefully they'll release a LP soon. STOKED.

victim (February 12, 2008)

The one song they played last night from the EP kind of stuck out to me-- probably because I hadn't really heard it before but also because, as some have said, its not quite as catchy.

Score is for the band, I'd give the EP a 7 or 8 right now but that will probably rise over repeated listens.

colin (February 12, 2008)

no fucking way

this is about a 4

this lacks any sort of emotion or fun. plus a song about a party that puts me to sleep hardly works. i love sink or swim but this is just piss poor compared to that.

MattRamone (February 12, 2008)

ib4 Scott makes a snide comment and then goes back to jacking off to Minus the Bear

ashtraymonument (February 12, 2008)

arg!!! damn mail!

baseball (February 12, 2008)

not as immediately catchy as Sink or Swim, but a great EP

love "Say I Won't (Recognize)" and can't wait for the vinyl to arrive!

Hey_Asshole (February 12, 2008)

i just can not get into this band...

ChokingVictim (February 12, 2008)

yeah...this band is incredible.

not many bands deserve hype like they have been getting...but they do.

PatrickEwing (February 12, 2008)

This long of a review for a 4 song EP? A little much, don't you think?

telegraphrocks (February 12, 2008)

I thought "Sink Or Swim" was beyond boring, but I'm really digging the shortness of this.

Maybe I'll give the full-length another shot.

onegirlarmy (February 12, 2008)

I also agree about this lacking explosive choruses, that's one of my main gripes with the record. However, after having heard virtually all of these songs live at some point or another last year, they definitely deliver at a Gaslight show still which is enough to make me love them.

Good review as well. I give three and a half stars to both the EP itself and review.

baldsteve (February 12, 2008)

If I could hug you I would, great fucking review man.

Dante3000 (February 12, 2008)

Ben is a liar and a drunk! I know for a fact this review is tainted by his personal love of Brian. I demand a recount...RECOUNT!

Seriously, who doesn't love Gaslight Anthem?! If you hate their music, it's impossible to hate the dudes. If you hate the dudes, you probably want to have sex with them and have trouble admitting it. It's cool, I'm not here to judge.
I hope Side One Dummy does right by these boys.
-Dante

onegirlarmy (February 12, 2008)

I personally don't think this is as good as Sink Or Swim, but still a very solid follow-up. Senor and the Queen is my jam, and the other three tracks are quite good as well. I can't wait to see if they play Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts live.

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