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 Nick Hornby on The Gaslight Anthem
Author: Jermoe 
Date:   08-09-12 09:54

Nick Hornby wrote a little something for the liner notes of The Gaslight Anthem's new album Handwritten (ah, but did he hand-write it?):

It would be stupid to try and tell you that the music you’re listening to is like nothing you’ve ever heard before. The songs on the Gaslight Anthem’s latest album are three or four minutes long, most of them, and they’re played on loud electric guitars, and there are drums, and to be honest, if you haven’t heard anything like this before, then you’re probably listening to the wrong band anyway. What’s great about the Gaslight Anthem is that there’s an assumption you’ll have heard something like this before - on the first Clash album, or on Born To Run, or the first Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album, or maybe on a Little Richard record. That’s what hooked me in. I’ve been listening to rock’n’roll for forty years, and so maybe I’m too old to be writing this stuff, but on the other hand, maybe I know what I’m talking about, too: believe me, I know a lot of stuff sounds tired and derivative, and makes you feel as though rock music is exhausted. It’s hard to find new ways to tell stories and write songs; even clothes made out of meat won’t do you much good if your music is 1980s dance-pop.

So you have two choices. The first is this: you do something nobody’s ever done before. You play the nose-flute underwater, put it through a computer backwards, and get a black Japanese guy to rap over the top. Or you write a novel using only consonants. Or you make a movie which nobody can see. And that’s all cool, but nobody will want to read your second novel written using only consonants, so then you’ll have to write one using only vowels. And the second is this: you think, write, play and sing as though you have a right to stand at the head of a long line of cool people - you recognise that the Clash and Little Richard got here first, but they’re not around any more, so you’re going to carry on the tradition, and you’re going to do it in your own voice, and with as much conviction and authenticity and truth as you can muster. And if you can pull that off, you’ll be amazed at how fresh you can sound.

And the Gaslight Anthem sound fresh. Anyone who has ever been frustrated by anything - a girl, a boy, a job, a self (especially that) - can listen to this music and feel understood and energised. (And if I feel energised, Lord knows what they’re going to do to you.) And I’m beginning to suspect that they, like, read books, too. ‘Great Expectations’ - now there’s a great title for a song. And here,‘Howl’ - there’s another one. Rockers who read. Songwriters who are not scared to go head-to-head with everyone else in rock’s great tradition. The Gaslight Anthem are my kind of people.

Nick Hornby
April 2012




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 Re: Nick Hornby on The Gaslight Anthem
Author: Michael Toland 
Date:   08-09-12 09:58

I read this when I got the record. This expresses a lot of what I feel about guitar-based rock & roll in general.

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 Re: Nick Hornby on The Gaslight Anthem
Author: totaji 
Date:   08-09-12 10:13

Great write up. I played '59 Sound a million times. But I was sort of let down by American Slang. It was missing something. No songs really jumped out. Handwritten seems like more of the same. There is nothing like "Here's Looking at You Kid" or "Great Expectations" etc... It sounds good, but lacking the songwriting. What do you guys think of their new one?

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 Re: Nick Hornby on The Gaslight Anthem
Author: Michael Toland 
Date:   08-09-12 10:30

I like it but don't love it, which is how I feel about all of their records so far. I think all three I have are pretty consistent, which is becoming a devil in their details. I will say that this record has a couple of songs I actively dislike, which is a first - since they sound like attempts to go grunge, I'm blaming Brendan O'Brien.

But there are always enough good songs for me to keep buying their records, in the hope that they'll put one out that's front-to-back killers.

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 Re: Nick Hornby on The Gaslight Anthem
Author: erikalbany 
Date:   08-09-12 10:42

"Anyone who has ever been frustrated by anything - a girl, a boy, a job, a self (especially that) - can listen to this music and feel understood and energised."

Give me a freakin' break.

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 Re: Nick Hornby on The Gaslight Anthem
Author: HollowbodyKay 
Date:   08-09-12 10:52

Ridiculous. He's laboring the obvious ... and I don't like his condescending tone.

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

Do you suppose that delta blues musicians sat around wringing their hands and worrying about this sort of silliness? Or did they just rock the house?

The worst thing about reading that piece is that I'm now less likely to listen to the Gaslight Anthem.

Bands: Just do your thing and kick ass at it. That's your job.

Stop second-guessing every step and worrying how the critics will receive it. That isn't your job.

Last time I checked, it was still Courtney Love's job.

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 Re: Nick Hornby on The Gaslight Anthem
Author: Jermoe 
Date:   08-09-12 11:10

I thought it was odd that Nick Hornby wrote anything. It's not exactly like Thomas Pynchon's liner notes for that Lotion album, but it seems like he's just preaching to the converted.

As for the album, I like it, don't love it. It's probably not a good sign when the one original tune among the 3 bonus tracks ("The Blue Dahlia") is the song I've been listening to the most. FYI, the other bonus tracks are covers of Nirvana's "Sliver" and, um, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers' "You Got Lucky," a band they did a better job of covering awhile back:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIVFVWvRBrA



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 Re: Nick Hornby on The Gaslight Anthem
Author: totaji 
Date:   08-09-12 12:19

I guess the essay kind of speaks to me because I have the tendency to overlook guitar/bass/drums rock. Sure, its all about the songwriting, but the medium can seem old. The guy (famous guy) feels alive when he hears them. This isn't a bad way of putting it.

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 Re: Nick Hornby on The Gaslight Anthem
Author: mats84 
Date:   08-09-12 14:52


I wish I heard anything in this band like what he hears. '59 Sound was a good record but other than Great Expectations nothing was great about it.

The followups have been increasingly cloying. The lyrics are often cringe inducing and labored to me. I dunno .......different strokes I guess.

In a year that's had great and inspiring records from The Cloud Nothings, Japandroids, The Men and Jack White - it feels to me like he's writing this about the wrong artist.




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 Re: Nick Hornby on The Gaslight Anthem
Author: Michael Toland 
Date:   08-09-12 15:32

Funny how you use "great and inspiring records" and "Jack White" in the same sentence.

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 Re: Nick Hornby on The Gaslight Anthem
Author: HollowbodyKay 
Date:   08-09-12 15:46

Quote:

Sure, its all about the songwriting, but the medium can seem old.


The bands get old. The audience gets old. The music is ... it's like, it's more like going, going to a national park, or something, and there's, you know, they preserve the moose...

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 Re: Nick Hornby on The Gaslight Anthem
Author: mats84 
Date:   08-09-12 15:47


I actually do find that album inspiring and I'll clarify a little as to why :

Prior to this record I've liked Jack White's music in a very superficial way and I always found him kind of a superficial artist too. There's nothing really wrong with that of course, his music always pleased my ear but I didn't find a lot of blood being drawn by it. It seemed more like "playing around with the Blues" than anything else.

Sometimes he did it really well (White Blood Cells), sometimes it kind of sounded like going through the motions. But on this record, I think he actually got closer to the spirit of the Blues than he did when he overtly aped or subverted Blues tropes.

So to me, that album is inspiring in the sense that a guy who has already made what - 7 (or more?) albums can still surprise. I think if the year ended right now, it would be in my number 1 slot really.




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 Re: Nick Hornby on The Gaslight Anthem
Author: Delvin 
Date:   08-09-12 16:49

I didn't start to dig Jack White until I heard the first Raconteurs album. I like the second one too, and both Dead Weather albums, and I definitely like Blunderbuss. As for the White Stripes, a few songs stand out here & there, but nothing that's reset the rock & roll clock for me.



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