The Gaslight Anthem put a lot of pressure on themselves to make a great album after the breakthrough success of The ‘59 Sound, a release that made them practically a household name for rock and roll fans throughout the world. The band was not only up to the task, but crafted an album in American Slang, which solidified their place as one of the hottest rock bands alive.
While The ‘59 Sound seemed to embrace rock and roll history and highlight the artists that had influenced the band, American Slang was something completely different. Rather than pay homage to the past and repeat the formula that had worked so well in The ‘59 Sound, the band sought to make its own history. They accomplished this by combining their Jersey roots and punk influences. It’s as if Springsteen and The Clash recorded an album together at the height of the punk era.
American Slang also served notice that the band would never forget where it came from. Lyrics continued to immortalize the streets of New Brunswick just as Springsteen did with the streets of Asbury Park.
Now the lights go low on the avenue
And the cars pass by in the rain
University boys and the girls fill the bars
While I’m just waiting on the light to change
And the steam heat pours
From the bodies on the floor
Down in the basement
Where the Jacknives play
For the hub city girls
In the ribbons and the curls
Who know the meaning of staying out late
They know the meaning of staying out
Very, very late
-- “The Diamond Church Street Choir”
Highlights include “American Slang,” “Stay Lucky,” “Bring It On,” and “The Diamond Church Street Choir.”
From the book Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists
by Gary Wien