The Gaslight Anthem

The B-Sides

Written by: PP on 04/02/2014 23:34:57

While we're all waiting for the new Gaslight Anthem album to land later this year which is supposedly their dirtiest and angriest album to date (citation Brian Fallon from our interview), they are teasing us with a compilation album simply titled "The B-Sides". Really it's mostly a Brian Fallon album though considering it primarily consists of acoustic renditions of Gaslight tracks with a few covers, a live cover of Pearl Jam's "State Of Love And Trust", and a lonesome new song "She Loves You" as its opening track. Returning readers are familiar with my distaste for acoustic versions of punk songs in general, but this is going to be one of the few times I'll actually endorse a largely acoustic album, and here's why.

Most acoustic versions of songs tend to be the exact same songs with all the interesting instrumentation reduced to a minimalist versions with the lead vocalist singing and lightly strumming an acoustic guitar. Needless to say, such versions are hopelessly unnecessary for any band to make, so it is good to see Brian Fallon take a wholly different approach here. While initial skepticism is healthy given it is old classics like "Great Expectations", "Queen Of Lower Chelsea" and "The '59 Sound" being rendered acoustic, you can breathe in relief as these are the polar opposite versions to what I just described above. Instead, Fallon takes great liberties at rearranging his original songs to playful reinterpretations where both tempo, riffs, and even vocal melodies are extensively experimented with to arrive at fully differentiated and, if you're a Gaslight fan, intensely intriguing versions of the originals. You see, while the basic essence of the "Great Expectations" chorus melody is preserved just enough for you to recognize it, the rest of the song takes a completely different form. There are even instances where the acoustic version is faster than the original, which is not something you'll usually see in these sorts of albums. In fact, what Fallon has done here is pretty much exactly what I'd recommend any artist considering acoustic renditions of their own songs to do.

What's more, the removal of the louder instrumentation leaves Fallon's voice fully exposed in the soundscape. For most vocalist this is an issue, but for Fallon it just makes his Americana-styled voice sound that much better when isolated out of its ordinary setting. As for the covers, Rolling Stones' "Tumbling Dice" gets a nod, as does the lesser known (for the mainstream, at least) Fake Problems song "Songs For Teenagers" - these aren't acoustic versions though rather than Gaslight Anthemified versions of the originals. Neat, but not the highlights on the album. The acoustic songs are key here, and should be required listening for any Gaslight Anthem fan.

Download: Great Expectations (Acoustic), The Queen of Lower Chelsea (Acoustic), The '59 Sound (Acoustic)
For the fans of: The Gaslight Anthem, Americana folk
Listen: Facebook

Release date 28.01.2014
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