Gaslight Anthem, Heartless Bastards, Good Old War | Bottom Lounge | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Gaslight Anthem, Heartless Bastards, Good Old War 

When: Fri., April 3, 8 p.m. 2009
In a recent online interview with Change the Record, GASLIGHT ANTHEM guitarist Alex Rosamilia described the group’s sound as “Bruce Springsteen singing for a Cure cover band, with a tinge more aggression,” and these New Brunswick boys display a proper reverence for their iconic Jersey brother on last year’s The ’59 Sound (Side One Dummy)—it’s a tour de force of fist-pumping Boss-inspired rock, simultaneously angsty and uplifting, with lyrics that have a curious way of making terrible pain in your past sound like something to be nostalgic about. There are no bells and whistles to speak of in the Gaslight Anthem’s music; everything’s built around front man Brian Fallon and his authoritative, punk-inspired vocal hooks, which remind me of fellow anthem junkies Against Me! and the Bouncing Souls. On standouts like “Great Expectations” and “The ’59 Sound” the band’s sparse chug does only exactly what it’s supposed to do: anticipate and accentuate the catchy choruses. It’s formulaic, sure, but it makes me want to wear a leather jacket and cruise around on a warm spring day in an ’82 Camaro with the T-tops off. Can’t beat that. —Kevin Warwick The Mountain (Fat Possum), the latest and greatest from the HEARTLESS BASTARDS, is a righteous show of confidence from front woman Erika Wennerstrom—she’s clearly not trifling now, if she ever was. Her band sounds solid too, despite yet another lineup shuffle—which is not to say that the other players are interchangeable, especially since both guys currently aboard have played in previous lineups, but the revolving door does underscore the fact that this is Wennerstrom’s show. This go-round her voice is grittier, her guitar work more expansive and snarly—she’s taking her time, making her way slowly, and the Bastards no longer sound like they’re just bashing away before last call. On songs like “Could Be So Happy” and “Hold Your Head High,” their rootsy, bluesy bar rock is refined, almost languid—and Wennerstrom’s whiskeyed voice is even more commanding when she reins in her holler to croon a little on the ballads. —Jessica Hopper The Gaslight Anthem headlines; the Heartless Bastards and Good Old War open.

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