The Gaslight Anthem - Senor and the Queen
"Wild hearts, blue jeans and white t-shirts."
When I think of The Gaslight Anthem, and really gruff punk rock in general, this line conjures up a pretty accurate representation. Their debut full length, Sink or Swim, was in my top three records of last year, and I've anxiously been awaiting this double 7 inch EP. The mp3s are available online, and I can't wait to pick up the vinyl at the show in two weeks with the Loved Ones. This EP has four songs, all of which are pretty different, and it shows them branching out a bit as songwriters, which is good.
The title track opens the record with a dark ringing chord which then leads into a verse similar to what we expect from The Gaslight guys. Uptempo, gruff rock and roll inspired punk, with technical leads over the top of it. The lyrics had the typical storytelling feel, with a half time chorus/outro. A solid lead off song.
"Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis?" is next, and starts with a very open feeling intro and a deep, rumbling bassline holding it all together before launching into a faster, scratchy verse. Something about the feel of this song is very loose, but it gives it a very natural, analog rock and roll feel. The lyrics continue storytelling and he continues talking to a senorita, which continues a theme from the first song.
The next track, "Say I Won't (Recognize)" is back to the faster, fuller sound we expect from Gaslight, and the technical leads (oddly reminiscent of Minus the Bear) reemerge. The chorus of "we're having a party, everybody's swinging, tonight won't you come down out of your tower, don't make me dance all night all alone" is super catchy and continues the story of talking with senorita (Maria?). About halfway through, the song drastically slows down and drops out, and the vocals take on a neat feel that his have never before. When it starts to rebuild, the hi-hat, bass drum and gang vocals give it a very southern "chain-gang" kind of mood, before heading back into to the chorus again.
"Blue Jeans and White T Shirts" is the most different of the songs on this EP. It's very stripped down, and has a Springsteen feel to it (you have to think there's a nod to him lyrically with "still we sing our heroes 33 rounds per minute"). It never really picks up, and there's a somber tone throughout, as well as great female backing vocals in the chorus. Feedback swells, light guitars, airy leads give it a feel that Gaslight has hinted at, but never really delved into. It's a nice change for them, and I'm curious to see what their next full length sounds like. Again, lyrically it addresses Maria, but this time lets us know that they "call every girl we ever met Maria," which throws a twist into the lyrics of earlier songs. Other than that, the lyrics are a repetitive, but catchy and thematically flowing for the boys in Gaslight.
On the whole, this is a solid EP, but for me it really serves as a teaser for the next full length. I'm definitely bummed that I missed them at Fest, but I really can't wait to see them at the Church with the Loved Ones in two weeks.