In 1988, Jon Bon Jovi was being interviewed by a reporter for Spin Magazine when he was asked if he was a fan of Bruce Springsteen. Bon Jovi replied “In New Jersey, if you don’t like Springsteen they raise your taxes.” Listening to the Gaslight Anthem’s second full-length album The '59 Sound, it’s pretty clear that leader Brian Fallon doesn’t have to worry much about his tax bill in the Garden State. Hailing from New Brunswick, NJ, the Gaslight Anthem are that rare punk band that displays a strong and unmistakable Springsteen influence, and while Fallon’s vocal resemblance to the Boss is clearly coincidental (he has more than a bit of Bruce’s throaty gravity without the grit), the boys-and-girls-on-the-backstreets tone of his lyrics is not, especially when stray fragments from Springsteen’s lyrics pop up in Fallon’s songs (cue up “Meet Me by the River’s Edge” and “High Lonesome” for evidence). If Fallon often comes off as a youthful Springsteen wannabe on The '59 Sound, he also happens to be pretty good at it; the force and sincerity of his songs roll over the occasional clunky spots, and the band brings this music across with a strength and urgency that suggests a heartland rock version of Social Distortion, with Alex Rosamila’s guitars and Benny Horowitz’s drumming brimming with fire and energy. The Gaslight Anthem are far too good to be the New Millennium’s answer to John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band, but it’s all but impossible to listen to The '59 Sound without being aware of this band’s key influence; even if they never grow out of their Springsteen obsession, they’re worth hearing, but it’s hard not to hope they’ll develop a stronger identity of their own with time…though they may want to warn their tax accountant before that happens. ~ Mark Deming
* I just found out about the band- kinda a mix of Social Distortion & Springsteen/Mellencamp with a hint of The Jam.