The ’59 Sound Sessions – The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem rose out of the fertile punk scene of New Brunswick, New Jersey, flaunting a unique style that melded the influence of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Wilson Pickett, and various Motown groups with the rough, emotional grit of Hot Water Music, Against Me!, and the Clash. Since debuting in 2007, the Brian Fallon-led collective has managed to both honor and expand on the Jersey Shore sound via acclaimed albums like Sink or Swim, The ’59 Sound, and American Slang, the latter of which saw the group dialing back on the punk fervor of previous outings and channeling the rootsy swagger of the Rolling Stones and Derek & the Dominos. The Gaslight Anthem ceased operations in 2015 — Fallon embarked on a successful solo career — but reconvened in 2018 for a string of performances to honor the 15th anniversary of 2008’s career-defining The ’59 Sound.

The band — comprising vocalist/guitarist Brian Fallon, bassist Alex Levine, drummer Benny Horowitz, and guitarist Alex Rosamilia — began establishing a hometown audience after forming in 2005, and their soulful punk rock attracted wider attention upon the release of their first full-length album, Sink or Swim. Arriving in May 2007 via the local imprint XOXO Records, the album garnered accolades from punk zines and blogs alike. The increasing popularity was enough to score gigs with the likes of Against Me! and the Draft, and by the end of 2007, the Gaslight Anthem had played over 200 shows.

The band managed to secure enough downtime between tour dates to record a four-song EP, Señor and the Queen, in Austin. The EP appeared in early 2008, as did an offer to join the roster of the California-based indie label Side One Dummy. The Gaslight Anthem signed with the label and released their sophomore effort, The ’59 Sound, later that year. Featuring a rough, rousing sound that took its cues from Social Distortion’s melodic punk and Bruce Springsteen’s heartland rock, the album found an audience not only in America — where eMusic deemed it the number one record of 2008 — but also in Europe, where Springsteen himself joined the musicians during their set at the 2009 Glastonbury Festival. Following the Glastonbury performance, sales of The ’59 Sound grew by 200 percent, whetting the public’s demand for a follow-up.

The band rounded out the year by playing additional festivals — including Lollapalooza, Pinkpop, Reading, and Leeds — before returning to the studio in early 2010. Working again with Ted Hutt, the same producer who helped them shape The ’59 Sound, the bandmates wrote and recorded the songs eventually featured on their third album, American Slang. The following year, the Gaslight Anthem announced that they were leaving Side One Dummy to sign on with Mercury Records, and in early 2012 they began work on their first album for their new label, Handwritten, which was released later that year. Breaking from the heartland rock mold of their earlier work, the band began to explore other influences, incorporating elements of power pop and ’70s rock into their fifth album, Get Hurt, which arrived in 2014.

The group announced an indefinite hiatus in 2015, a year that also saw the release of Brian Fallon’s debut solo outing, Painkillers. The Gaslight Anthem reunited in 2018 for series of concerts to promote the release of The ’59 Sound Sessions, a nine-track set featuring rare and previously unreleased songs recorded in the months before the group headed into the studio to cut 2008’s The ’59 Sound. ~ Corey Apar & Andrew Leahey

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