Friday, October 31, 2008

ain't supposed to die on a saturday night

I picked up an album yesterday, "The '59 Sound" by Gaslight Anthem. I had heard the two lead singles on the radio, and liked both a lot, good late-night driving music, so when I was at Best Buy last night looking for new music, I figured I would give it a chance.

It was a pretty good reminder of why A) I have listened to the radio so infrequently over the last five years, and B) why I never buy albums anymore based off a catchy song on the radio.

I hate to sound like an old person, but every damn song sounds the same. There is no variety. If you skip through the tracks and listen to the first five seconds, 2/3 of them could be easily mistaken for each other. They play actual notes here and there, which is a plus, I suppose, but the best we get are little loops of four or five notes repeated over and over, in front of your usual package of three power chords endlessly churning out. My usual annoyance applies just as it normally does - when you have a few power chords and no "solo" or any actual playing of your instruments, the songs will be boring as hell, and in this case, they all sound the same, too.

My biggest problem with the album is the vocals. They have this weird sheen effect laid over them, which was noticible on the radio, but surprisingly more prominent on the actual album. Effects are fine, but it is incredibly obvious that in this case they're being used to cover up the fact that the vocals are lacking something.

Which brings me to my point - when the hell did it become acceptable and popular to have bands with a lead singer who can't sing worth a damn? This guy half-sing-half-talks and sounds tone deaf half of the time, and people love it. Same goes for that Killers band - shitty effects trying to compensate for a singer who can't actually sing.

Back to Japanese and Finnish shit, I guess.


Anonymous said...

Actually, Brian Fallon, The Gaslight Anthem's lead singer, has one of the best voices out there in music today. If you would take the time to listen to them play live, you would see that: Listen to Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts for a good example

He has said that the reason for the reverb effect on the vocals is to recreate the sounds of the old soul records he loves, which had that effect as a result of the tapes echoing during recording.

As for how every song sounds the same, I'm just wondering how you can say that "Film Noir", "The Patient Ferris Wheel", and "Here's Looking At You, Kid" sound the same.

Give this album a few more listens. The lyrics are incredible, and one of the best parts of the album. Trust me, this album will grow on you, and you won't be saying the same thing in a few months.

petethepanda said...

Didn't see this comment until now, weird.

I don't know, something about the sound of the first couple tracks appeals to me, but doesn't ring quite right with me on the rest.

I have indeed liked it more on subsequent listenings, but I think it just might not be my thing.

I do want to see them live, though.

James said...

The 'sheen' over the vocals may take a few listens to overcome, and at first may throw a lot of listeners off. In fact half the people I know who heard TGA were phased by the vocals at first and many stayed away for that very reason. I actually think the effect does wk'to the bands' strengths, in creating a truely 'different' punk rock record. I can see, and appreciate that it's a homage to the soul bands of former decades and in the case of TGA it wks' well in making them stand out from their peers. I think the band are great and a true breath of fresh air.

Nathan said...

While I really like a lot of what I hear from this band, I agree that the vocals are not nearly as strong as they ought to be. Even the backing vocals on "Old White Lincoln" are lacking. However, as far as the effects that are on recordings, it's not unlike Bruce Springsteen's stuff, from the 80's.

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