The Gaslight Anthem, THE B-SIDES

Contrary to what The Office 's Dwight Schrute said, not every song sounds better acoustic.  The Gaslight Anthem try some new versions of their existing material, plus some odds and ends, on their latest album The B-Sides.  The results vary in quality.

The B-Sides is split almost evenly between acoustic versions of Gaslight Anthem songs and covers (the latter ranging from the Rolling Stones to Pearl Jam), along with one new song.  Unfortunately, while Brian Fallon's voice can keep up very well with the electric guitars and fast pace of the Gaslight Anthem's normal songs, it often feels loud and out of place on the acoustic songs.  As for these stripped-down songs, they mostly sound like pale copies of the originals (except for "Boxer," which here has a nice, different almost-industrial beat that distinguishes it more from the original).

The covers on The B-Sides are more respectable.  While "State of Love and Trust" is almost indistinguishable from the original, this version of Fake Problems' "Songs for Teenagers" is quite moving, and their take on "Tumbling Dice" suits Fallon's voice very well.

B-sides often give bands and singers a chance to experiment more, leaving their comfort and profitable zones to try something new.  The B-Sides shows that the Gaslight Anthem can do decent acoustic songs and covers but they may want to stick with their traditional sound.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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