Young man with an old soul
The Anthem Handwritten
(Mercury) There’s something about this hearton- their- sleeve New Jersey band that makes you feel younger the louder you twist the volume knob.
Much of their appeal comes down to frontman Brian Fallon, a young man with an old soul, enamoured with the romance of rock’n’roll, classic cars and sailor tattoos. He’s a devotee of Bruce Springsteen, fuelled by a punk rock rhythm section.
Handwritten is the band’s fourth record and their best to date.
The urgency of punk and earnestness of The Boss are still there but less consciously than in the past.
Rather than name-check their heroes or favourite songs in every second verse, they’re just focused on making glorious, fistpumping rock’n’roll that sounds all their own.
‘‘Have you seen my heart? Have you seen Gaslight
– how it bleeds?’’ cries Fallon on first single 45. Oh boy, have we ever. But every regret or pledge of devotion is filtered through an endearing shade of nostalgia.
When he vows to write his sweetheart in the title check, it is by the light of the moon and ‘‘every word handwritten’’.
There’s nothing tricky or flashy to what The Gaslight Anthem does.
It’s meat and potatoes guitar-driven rock, they just happen to be doing it better than anyone else right now, and have a singersongwriter who can make even the most innocuous lyrics sound like they came down on a tablet from Mount Sinai.
This is rock’n’roll at its most visceral and vital.
Matthew Dallas Old Crow Medicine Show – Carry Me Back
(ATO/Shock) Yee-haw, Old Crow Medicine Show are back.
The five- piece revivalists of all things old-timey got a little lost trying to play rock’n’roll on 2008’s Tennessee Pusher. Though it had its highlights, the record lacked spirit, an accusation you could never level at their live show.
Carry Me Back gets a lot closer to the energy and attitude the band muster in front of a crowd, and their bluegrass and folk influences are to the fore, as they were on their 2004 Gillian Welch/David Rawlings endorsed debut. It may have something to do with the recent departure of singer-guitarist Willie Watson and return of co-founder Critter Fuqua, who wrote many of the humdingers on the first record.
Quite simply, if you think you might like cheeky buggers armed with a smokin’ fiddle and more Southern charm than a Tennessee Williams play, OCMS will go down a treat.
The opening trifecta of foot-stomper Carry Me Back to Virginia, thigh-slapper We Don’t Grow Tobacco and heartbreaker Levi is a wonderful lead in to one of the most enjoyable country records in recent years.
Breaking out: The Gaslight Anthem are more than just the sum of their influences on their brilliant new album Handwritten.