In 2008, I said that The 59 Sound was the 6th best album of the year.  Looking back now, I’d rate it higher.  A few of the albums rated above it, like the debuts by Santogold and Lodeck & Omega One, didn’t hold up, and as good as Cloud Cult’s Feel Good Ghosts was, I don’t find myself going back to drink from that well over and over.  But I’ve listened to Gaslight Anthem‘s superb release countless times.  (Actually, 16 times, according to iTunes, which is a lot for a guy like me who makes it a mission to hear at least 3 new albums a week.)  So based on my fan-status, you can imagine how much I was looking forward to “American Slang.”
So how does it hold up? In short, they didn’t let me down a bit.  In fact, their label, Side One Dummy, is quietly accruing a roster of stellar artists who can deftly straddle the line between accessible pop and edgy underground, featuring folks like Gaslight Anthem, of course, as well as Bedouin Soundclash, The Casualties, Gogol Bordello, and Jesse Malin.
The Jersey boys still have a bar-band sound, somewhere between Bruce and The Hold Steady, mixed with the joy of early Tom Petty.  This, their third album, isn’t a huge departure.  In fact, it’s kind of a continuing metamorphosis.  Ever since their debut, the band has become progressively more confident, and smoother.  It’s hard to imagine them doing the do-wop swing of Diamond Church Street Choir before now, with a beat and hop that recalls Van Morrison’s own Street Choir period, or mixing gospel and ska on the brilliant The Queen of Lower Chelsea.  But at the same time they’ve got familiar, fist-pumping anthems like Bring It On, The Boxer, and the radio-friendly title track.
If this isn’t one of my favorites by the end of the year, then we’re in for one of the best musical years ever.

Stream Bring It On:

And then dig these live boot covers!

American Girl (Tom Petty)

Angry Johnny and the Radio/I Was Married/Downtown Train/What Becomes of the Broken Hearted

State of Love and Trust (Pearl Jam)

I Do Not Hook Up (Kelly Clarkson)

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