January 30, 2014
While fans of The Gaslight Anthem clamor for fresh music in 2014, the Jersey boys’ Tuesday release might be enough to sate the diehards for now.
“The B-Sides,” a compilation of covers, live sessions and acoustic outtakes recorded between 2008 and 2011 revisit a handful of the band’s most popular tracks, and land a few clean jabs at some older rock and grunge.
A pair of the group’s most well-circulated songs, 2008’s “The ‘59 Sound,” and “Great Expectations,” each gain a warm, bonfire sing-along intimacy with their melodies tweaked and their electrics unplugged. Singer Brian Fallon’s voice, which is dropped an octave, holds its grit but doesn’t lose pitch or power in the lower register.
A handful of tracks from 2010's "American Slang" are featured as well, but don’t touch the originals quite like the “‘59 Sound” songs.
As for the record’s covers, some snap nicely into place, but others just don’t fit. The oldest tribute chosen, The Rolling Stones’ 1972 single “Tumbling Dice” spins right into the New Brunswick guys’ wheelhouse, and is a fun rework, with Fallon’s tone adding some texture. “Songs for Teenagers,” a punkish, little tune from the band’s lesser known SideOneDummy label-mate, Fake Problems is, honestly, stronger with Gaslight at the reins.
But Pearl Jam’s “State of Love and Trust” gains a little polish and not much else. And “Antonia Jane,” from Canadian indie rockers Lightning Dust misses its piano, which is prominent in the original.
Mostly, the collection is worth a run-through, but like it or leave it, rehashed tunes are the plate of the day until a new LP comes along.