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 "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"

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CapedAvenger
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PostSubject: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:19 pm

(Mods/Admins - apologies if this isn't the right section for this, i wasn't sure whether to put it here or in the Interviews & Press section)

I was reading a review (link below) of last night's gig in Manchester and came across that statement, which has made me stop and think. Not because it's a review by a particularly important publication or journalist, but because i can at least half see where he's coming from.

Other than the semantic differences between "brilliant" and "exceptional", i'd be interested in others' thoughts on the statement.

http://insidetameside.com/2014/11/gaslight-anthem-02-apollo-manchester-monday-17-november-2014/
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:34 pm

I think they've got a bunch of brilliant songs that are held back by unfortunate production.

American Slang, for instance. Brilliant song, but with the decision to not play open chords (get your shit together, 2010 Brian Fallon) it just sounds so dry.
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:15 pm

That statement is indeed thought provoking. What is the journalist's definition of an exceptional band?
With the very next sentence he appears to define it as commercial success.

But that is debatable. To me, a band is exceptional when it is 'an exception from others' in how they sound, what they write about, how they put it all together to get their art across, and how I feel when I listen to it. Therefore, I massively disagree that what makes a band exceptional is commercial success. To me, that success equates to them being extra rich and famous with mass appeal. Which, I get, is an exception against most others on the planet who calls him/herself a musician. Perhaps that is what the journalist meant.

Further to the point of subjectivity: I personally think Brian's lyrics are exceptional; but that is because he so often articulates things I feel but can't even begin to poinpoint. If no one else on the planet thought this, does it make it any less exceptional? (cue tree falling in forest)

What were your thoughts, Caped Avenger, since you felt you could understand the journalist's perspective?
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Wed Nov 19, 2014 3:50 am

Caped Avenger, I'd also be curious to hear your opinion on this.

Jen I think I agree with you on this. I'd almost argue that they have quite a lot of exceptional songs and a few simply brilliant ones but I think the author is just using (in my opinion) the wrong words. I think he's just trying to articulate that they have a lot of amazing songs but don't really have THAT song that catapults you into the #1 spot and turns you into a household name. Which is true. However, I don't think that song, if it did exist, would automatically be their most exceptional. And personally, I think it says more of an artist that their body of work is more exceptional as a whole than any one piece of it.


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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Wed Nov 19, 2014 10:15 am

I think I get what the reviewer is saying, I think they have many exceptional songs but that is the fan in me saying that where as I can understand why a more casual observer would come out with that quote. For me this is the exact reason they are my favourite band at the moment. I think with most other bands they have clear 'hits' which most other fans like and which are more than likely to be a staple on a set-list live because they know they sort of have to play it to please their fans. Bar arguably the 59 Sound, I just don't think Gaslight have songs like this - they consistently produce great songs and even if some fans aren't that fond of a song, others will be. I reckon if you asked 10 people on here their top 5 Gaslight Anthem songs you would get a list of 40+ songs back (probably along with 'its really difficult to choose just 5'). I personally find myself rediscovering songs I sort of skipped over before and start loving them with Gaslight - most recently Stray Paper - and I don't really do this with any other bands.
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Wed Nov 19, 2014 10:18 am

I wish I could, at least, write songs that are as brilliant as the TGA ones.
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Wed Nov 19, 2014 2:12 pm

If they had many "exceptional" songs, they wouldn't be exceptional, given the definition of that word...
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Wed Nov 19, 2014 4:50 pm

pleasepassthesoup wrote:
If they had many "exceptional" songs, they wouldn't be exceptional, given the definition of that word...

I think he means in the grand scheme of music, not just within their catalogue.
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:06 pm

jensomniac wrote:
What were your thoughts, Caped Avenger, since you felt you could understand the journalist's perspective?
I'm not sure.

I find it difficult to all-out agree that "very few are exceptional". A quick scan through the TGA tracks in my iTunes suggests i have ~75 unique original songs of theirs (i.e. ignoring covers, duplicates from multiple versions, etc.). I'd definitely class more than 5% of those, and probably more than 10%, as exceptional.

Then again, i wouldn't necessarily agree "all are brilliant", so there's the flipside.

Something that i think supports the journo's opinion is that whoever i try to wean onto TGA, i can do so successfully. Nobody who i've lent an album to has ever given it back and said "meh", and the vast majority leap in and start hoovering up their back catalogue, going to gigs, etc. And when i have friends over who aren't familiar and throw a mix of music on, it's often the TGA tracks that make people ask "who's this? It's really good!" So i think that substantiates the brilliance side of the argument.

And i think his argument why "very few are exceptional" stands up to examination. They're 5 albums in, and there's nothing that's yet sent them up into arena- or stadium-sized stardom in the same way as a few tracks off Hot Fuss did for The Killers (to select just one fairly recent example).

So i'm not really sure, and i'm aware that i'm sort of arguing both for and against what the guy said. I might not agree fully, but i can see his point of view.

pleasepassthesoup wrote:
If they had many "exceptional" songs, they wouldn't be exceptional, given the definition of that word...
Semantics. Which, as per the OP, i don't particularly want to delve into. Can we just let that lie and agree that, at least for the purposes of this thread, "exceptional" is a step above "brilliant" (i.e. good - very good - brilliant - exceptional)?
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:41 pm

Being a 'big' band is as much about luck, timing, marketing and hype as it is about anything to do with talent.

They have never seemed a band who wants the spotlight of "fame", which is arguably the biggest barrier to greater exposure for a band 5 albums in - they seem content with what they do.

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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Thu Nov 20, 2014 2:57 pm

Surely it's all about personal opinion? Survey a bunch of teenage girls and they'll tell you that One Direction are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

I think sometimes journalists just say something to get a reaction, which is kind of their job I guess.

As far as GA are concerned, I think Film Noir, Great Expectations, I'da Called You Woody, Joe, (why do they never do this live?), Blue Dahlia, Here Comes My Man, Mae, Desire and Dark Places, to name a few, are all exceptional and brilliant, so there you go Smile
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Thu Nov 20, 2014 7:35 pm

as criticisms go that's a fairly good one to have leveled against you Wink
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Tue Dec 02, 2014 4:45 pm

Pleasepassthesoup is spot on. How many artists/bands can boast that they have loads of 'exceptional songs'? If they do they can't be exceptional. I certainly agree that all of their songs are brilliant, you won't find me arguing with that.
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Thu Dec 04, 2014 1:15 am

michaelphillips wrote:
I think I get what the reviewer is saying, I think they have many exceptional songs but that is the fan in me saying that where as I can understand why a more casual observer would come out with that quote. For me this is the exact reason they are my favourite band at the moment. I think with most other bands they have clear 'hits' which most other fans like and which are more than likely to be a staple on a set-list live because they know they sort of have to play it to please their fans. Bar arguably the 59 Sound, I just don't think Gaslight have songs like this - they consistently produce great songs and even if some fans aren't that fond of a song, others will be. I reckon if you asked 10 people on here their top 5 Gaslight Anthem songs you would get a list of 40+ songs back (probably along with 'its really difficult to choose just 5'). I personally find myself rediscovering songs I sort of skipped over before and start loving them with Gaslight - most recently Stray Paper - and I don't really do this with any other bands.

Really good point. Just looking at the "Rank the Songs on Get Hurt" thread is evidence of how varied peoples' responses are to the songs. I, for instance, am floored every time I hear Stay Vicious, but many people are unimpressed by the song. The same could be said for virtually any track.

Most every other band I love has their "canon." Outside of 59 Sound being the de facto "best" album, Gaslight's catalogue is in no way divided into the obvious good songs and obvious bad songs.
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Thu Dec 04, 2014 4:07 am

shredderrrrrr wrote:

Really good point. Just looking at the "Rank the Songs on Get Hurt" thread is evidence of how varied peoples' responses are to the songs. I, for instance, am floored every time I hear Stay Vicious, but many people are unimpressed by the song. The same could be said for virtually any track.

Most every other band I love has their "canon." Outside of 59 Sound being the de facto "best" album, Gaslight's catalogue is in no way divided into the obvious good songs and obvious bad songs.

Seriously, American Slang is my favorite but it seems to be the most forgotten by most fans and also the band according to the setlists of the past 3 years
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Thu Dec 04, 2014 4:15 am

shredderrrrrr wrote:

Most every other band I love has their "canon." Outside of 59 Sound being the de facto "best" album, Gaslight's catalogue is in no way divided into the obvious good songs and obvious bad songs.

Hey hey hey, 59 Sound is not the "de facto best album". Most loved perhaps, (although given the number of fans who jumped on board with Handwritten, maybe not) but it can hardly be declared that it is a fact that it's their best.

But you're right. Even the "less liked" songs are loved by a number of people and enjoyed by most of the fanbase. Which is honestly incredible if you think about it.

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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Thu Dec 04, 2014 4:21 am

DeathoftheCool wrote:
shredderrrrrr wrote:

Really good point. Just looking at the "Rank the Songs on Get Hurt" thread is evidence of how varied peoples' responses are to the songs. I, for instance, am floored every time I hear Stay Vicious, but many people are unimpressed by the song. The same could be said for virtually any track.

Most every other band I love has their "canon." Outside of 59 Sound being the de facto "best" album, Gaslight's catalogue is in no way divided into the obvious good songs and obvious bad songs.

Seriously, American Slang is my favorite but it seems to be the most forgotten by most fans and also the band according to the setlists of the past 3 years

YES. Thank you. Someone who appreciates that album.

I'm still holding out hope that some day years from now, the band is going to be so bored of playing every song on the 59 sound for the 8 billionth time and one of them is gonna say "Remember that album we wrote after 59? What's it called again? I don't think we've played those songs in at least 20 years. Let's bring them back." And it will be the best tour ever cheers .

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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Thu Dec 04, 2014 4:32 am

StitchesOnTheRadio wrote:
DeathoftheCool wrote:
shredderrrrrr wrote:

Really good point. Just looking at the "Rank the Songs on Get Hurt" thread is evidence of how varied peoples' responses are to the songs. I, for instance, am floored every time I hear Stay Vicious, but many people are unimpressed by the song. The same could be said for virtually any track.

Most every other band I love has their "canon." Outside of 59 Sound being the de facto "best" album, Gaslight's catalogue is in no way divided into the obvious good songs and obvious bad songs.

Seriously, American Slang is my favorite but it seems to be the most forgotten by most fans and also the band according to the setlists of the past 3 years

YES. Thank you. Someone who appreciates that album.

I'm still holding out hope that some day years from now, the band is going to be so bored of playing every song on the 59 sound for the 8 billionth time and one of them is gonna say "Remember that album we wrote after 59? What's it called again? I don't think we've played those songs in at least 20 years. Let's bring them back." And it will be the best tour ever cheers .

Yes i will probably cry if i hear Bring It On live one day. I'm surprised how Handwritten heavy this tour has been, they are almost playing as many songs off it as Get Hurt. American Slang to me just kinda sounds like a bare bones fairytale and the lyrics are so emotional and original that I can't help but get the most triumphant smile on my face whenever I start the album from the beginning. Hug
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Thu Dec 04, 2014 5:58 pm

StitchesOnTheRadio wrote:
DeathoftheCool wrote:
shredderrrrrr wrote:

Really good point. Just looking at the "Rank the Songs on Get Hurt" thread is evidence of how varied peoples' responses are to the songs. I, for instance, am floored every time I hear Stay Vicious, but many people are unimpressed by the song. The same could be said for virtually any track.

Most every other band I love has their "canon." Outside of 59 Sound being the de facto "best" album, Gaslight's catalogue is in no way divided into the obvious good songs and obvious bad songs.

Seriously, American Slang is my favorite but it seems to be the most forgotten by most fans and also the band according to the setlists of the past 3 years

YES. Thank you. Someone who appreciates that album.

I'm still holding out hope that some day years from now, the band is going to be so bored of playing every song on the 59 sound for the 8 billionth time and one of them is gonna say "Remember that album we wrote after 59? What's it called again? I don't think we've played those songs in at least 20 years. Let's bring them back." And it will be the best tour ever cheers .

If we're going to be taking out songs from the set list let's not start with their best album...
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Fri Dec 05, 2014 6:16 pm

I must admit, I kind of agree with this point both in terms of album and live shows. Like many I joined the bandwagon with 59 sound and I think they have struggled to match that. It doesn't mean there aren't great songs on the follow up albums but as a collective they just don't match it. Indeed, more and more its a case of good but only occasionally amazing song.

It might be controversial but I am also not convinced they are the live force they once were. It was actually the American slang tour when I thought they were at their best live - brilliant songs played with huge enthusiasm. For me, some of the spark has gone from the band. Last tour was better than hand written but again only good rather than awesome.

I'm still a fan but it's getting harder work to really love them, only an opinion though so don't hang me for it!!!
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Fri Dec 05, 2014 9:44 pm

StitchesOnTheRadio wrote:
shredderrrrrr wrote:

Most every other band I love has their "canon." Outside of 59 Sound being the de facto "best" album, Gaslight's catalogue is in no way divided into the obvious good songs and obvious bad songs.

Hey hey hey, 59 Sound is not the "de facto best album". Most loved perhaps, (although given the number of fans who jumped on board with Handwritten, maybe not) but it can hardly be declared that it is a fact that it's their best.

But you're right. Even the "less liked" songs are loved by a number of people and enjoyed by most of the fanbase. Which is honestly incredible if you think about it.

You think Handwritten is up there? Huh, I always got the impression that was the least-liked album (that or AS, which always seems to be forgotten). Then again, that just gets to the point!

The only reason I said The 59 Sound is the de facto best album is because it is the one record I rarely hear anyone say a single bad thing about (both critically and with fans). Furthermore, it was the album that really established "who" Gaslight was. And perhaps most relevant to this conversation, I think it has the strongest argument for "fan favorite" tracks/staples in 59S, Great Expectations, and Backseat.
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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Sat Dec 06, 2014 1:18 am

shredderrrrrr wrote:
StitchesOnTheRadio wrote:
shredderrrrrr wrote:

Most every other band I love has their "canon." Outside of 59 Sound being the de facto "best" album, Gaslight's catalogue is in no way divided into the obvious good songs and obvious bad songs.

Hey hey hey, 59 Sound is not the "de facto best album". Most loved perhaps, (although given the number of fans who jumped on board with Handwritten, maybe not) but it can hardly be declared that it is a fact that it's their best.

But you're right. Even the "less liked" songs are loved by a number of people and enjoyed by most of the fanbase. Which is honestly incredible if you think about it.

You think Handwritten is up there? Huh, I always got the impression that was the least-liked album (that or AS, which always seems to be forgotten). Then again, that just gets to the point!

The only reason I said The 59 Sound is the de facto best album is because it is the one record I rarely hear anyone say a single bad thing about (both critically and with fans). Furthermore, it was the album that really established "who" Gaslight was. And perhaps most relevant to this conversation, I think it has the strongest argument for "fan favorite" tracks/staples in 59S, Great Expectations, and Backseat.

Not amongst people who were already fans but I think it brought a lot of new people on board. At most of the shows I attended this tour, it seemed to be the Handwritten tracks that got the biggest response. ESPECIALLY 45. Anyway, best and most popular aren't the same thing. I simply mentioned that Handwritten might be giving it a run for it's money with the new fans vs the old.

No one says a bad thing about 59 because it's the album that pulled the majority of us in so it will always hold a special (and biased) place in our hearts. And while we're discussing bias, AS gets negativity for 2 reasons, 1) it's not 59 sound and everyone was looking for the exact same album over again but that's not possible and 2) the band speaks ill of it and chooses not to play 90% of it. And when they do (like they did Old Haunts this tour) they play it slowed down or they play the same 2 songs over and over and over. It's my favorite album but even I'm sick of American Slang and Diamond Church Street Choir by now. That album never stood a chance.

Rock bus wrote:
I must admit, I kind of agree with this point both in terms of album and live shows. Like many I joined the bandwagon with 59 sound and I think they have struggled to match that. It doesn't mean there aren't great songs on the follow up albums but as a collective they just don't match it. Indeed, more and more its a case of good but only occasionally amazing song.

It might be controversial but I am also not convinced they are the live force they once were. It was actually the American slang tour when I thought they were at their best live - brilliant songs played with huge enthusiasm. For me, some of the spark has gone from the band. Last tour was better than hand written but again only good rather than awesome.

I'm still a fan but it's getting harder work to really love them, only an opinion though so don't hang me for it!!!

On the first part, I could not disagree with you more. I think Get Hurt is a better album than 59 sound. I think 59 sound has a few songs that exceed anything on American Slang, but I think collectively American Slang is also a better album. It's tighter, the lyrics are less all over the place, and while I think they could've gone soo much further with it musically, I still love the sound of that album.  I rank all 3 very close to one another but I don't agree that '59 is the obvious "best" album.

On the second part I agree. I don't know if I mentioned this already on here but I went back and watched a live video of Old Haunts from 2010 (I think it was at the area 4 festival) and it's unbelievable the difference in the energy. And that's only 2010. I don't know why this is, but that's why it frustrates me so much that they play these songs slower now. I'm all for actual slowed down versions like what they did with Great Expectations, but not "slightly slower" regular versions. And don't anybody give me the "they're getting older" response to that. I'm a Springsteen fan and that 65 year old man plays for 3 hours, crowd surfs, and jumps on and off a piano during most shows so I will not accept that excuse Smile .

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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:47 am

For whatever reason, I never give AS the credit it deserves and always view it as my least favorite. But then I go back and listen to it and I have no idea why. It is such a great record. I think it might honestly be because my least favorite track is the opener, so it sets a negative impression for the rest of the album for me (since I normally love the opener). And hell, American Slang is a great song!

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PostSubject: Re: "all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional"   Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:48 am

Thanks you guys for putting me on the AS kick!

Orphans has to be one of Gaslight's best songs.

And I think We Did it When We Were Young has to be my favorite of all Gaslight's slower songs.
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