Danny Clinch
Melissa Maerz
August 23, 2012 AT 04:00 AM EDT


Current Status
In Season
music label

We gave it a B+

Bruce Springsteen backed these Jersey boys on guitar during an Asbury Park show last year, and it’s easy to understand why he’s a fan. As a kid, Gaslight singer Brian Fallon lived a few blocks away from E Street, and the band’s fourth album, Handwritten, wears its hardcore-punk-meets-rust-belt-rock sincerity like a bandanna tucked into its back pocket — with songs about rivers and long roads and burnout jobs and guys who never forget where they came from. But unlike other Boss revivalists who treat America like a mythological concept (see: the Killers’ Sam’s Town), the band’s not just riffing on the heartland. They’re living in it, writing affecting tributes to real places you can find on a map (”Biloxi Parish,” ”Mulholland Drive”). Fallon claims the best way to see those places is to ”drive you around with the radio on,” and then he takes you on that trip, playing music that would thrive on any classic-rock station — from the grunge howl of ”Too Much Blood” to the Nebraska folk of ”National Anthem” and dusty-vinyl tribute ”45.” That last track compares flipping a record over to starting over in life, but these guys don’t embrace change so easily. And maybe that’s okay. Their album is everything its title suggests: old-school, DIY, and so heartfelt, its emotions might as well be tattooed on its knuckles. B+

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