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PostSubject: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Sun Feb 28, 2016 1:36 pm

Here are a few reviews from the UK music press.  Please add reviews you come across.


Uncut 7/10




Q 3/5




MOJO 4/5




republished under 'fair use'

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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Sun Feb 28, 2016 1:54 pm

Good idea keeping them all in one thread.

Classic Rock, 8/10 - although they were a little confused about the title!

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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Mon Feb 29, 2016 7:53 pm

thanks for posting the reviews
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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Tue Mar 01, 2016 6:32 am

Q's review is horrible as usual.
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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Thu Mar 03, 2016 3:03 pm

The Independent 3/5

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/reviews/painkillers-brian-fallon-album-review-solid-genuinely-inspired-songwriting-for-the-gaslight-anthem-a6909766.html


Brian Fallon is much more than your average Bruce Springsteen wannabe. Like The Boss, The Gaslight Anthem’s frontman was born and bred in New Jersey, but the depth and authenticity felt on fist-pumping solo debut Painkillers is convincingly his own.

Opener “A Wonderful Life” is shamelessly jam-packed with cliched, “picture show” images of kisses in the night and desire on fire while the punchy “Among Other Foolish Things” offers a heartland rock alternative to Taylor Swift when craving a cynical break-up song.

Catchy clap-along “Smoke” has a driving Americana force behind it while the sleazier “Mojo Hand” plays with a bluesy, country edge. Fallon is at his best on these anthemic road trip songs, with downbeat tracks “Steve McQueen”, and “Honey Magnolia” lacking the oft-needed subtlety that has never been his strength.

Title track “Painkillers” feels cheesy while “Red Lights” continues Fallon's well-worn themes of longing and desperation. He invests hefty emotional charge into “Rosemary”, it’s heart-thumping drums and soaring guitar adding weight to his rasping, yearning vocals.

Fallon is never going to escape the Springsteen comparisons that still cling to him like those Born to Run leathers, but this is solid, genuinely inspired songwriting that TGA fans will enjoy.
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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Thu Mar 03, 2016 3:41 pm

Don't US magazines and papers review records?

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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Thu Mar 03, 2016 4:53 pm

Five reviews so far. Ten mentions of Springsteen (or close relations) and only one article fails to mention him at all.
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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Thu Mar 03, 2016 5:27 pm

Yeah, you can kind of see why he got sick of it a few years ago. I'm kind of sick of it myself!
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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Thu Mar 03, 2016 5:42 pm

Not a print publication, but from a German online magazine:

http://www.handwritten-mag.de/brian-fallon-painkillers-islanduniversal-11-03-2016/


[too tired to translate it all, so here just a few bits: "Brian Fallon is back, and how!"; "goosebumps"; "what Brian Fallon manages to do with this album, hasn't been managed by anyone for a long time"; "not just a recommendation, but an instruction to purchase"; "a really great album" - oh, and there are two Springsteen references in the review]


5/5

Brian Fallon – Painkillers (Island/Universal, 11.03.2016)
Sven, 2. März 2016

Brian Fallon ist wieder da. Und wie!

Als großer Fan von „Blue Jeans“ und „Sailortattoos“ Pathos, habe ich die ersten Veröffentlichungen von Gaslight Anthem verschlungen, die Vinyl bis zum Erbrechen gehört und am Ende war Brian Fallon der Typ, von dem ich immer sagte „Der einzige Kerl mit dem ich Durchbrennen würde!“. Leider kam dann „Get Hurt“ und wo sich einige Fans schon bei „Handwritten“ oder sogar bei „American Slang“ (dem Hit-Album) verabschiedeten, hat es mich erst mit diesem Stück Popmusik vergrault.

Brian selbst sagt zu Painkillers:

„Ich hatte das Gefühl, wirklich genau das Richtige zu tun: Es war die richtige Sache, der richtige Moment, der richtige Sound. Alles stimmte daran. Ein echt gutes Gefühl war das, so als ob ich meine ganze Karriere schon auf dieses eine Album hingearbeitet hätte – und nun war endlich der Moment gekommen, das alles raus zu lassen.“

Bei jedem anderen Songwriter hätte ich das als das übliche PR-Gequatsche abgetan, aber der Liebling vom „Boss“ ist einfach echt und macht was er liebt. Und das hört man und spürt man mit jeder Faser seines Körpers, wenn man sich darauf einlässt.

Mit seinen Songs war es schon immer die Besonderheit, dass ich sie überall zu hören bekomme. In der Indiedisco des Szeneviertels und in der Bikerbar an der Ecke zwischen Maiden-Shirts und Bierbäuchen. Es funktioniert einfach und jeder Musikfan kann und will sich dieses wild romantische „Handwritten“-Ding anhören. Schließlich ist das auch nicht unschuldig an der Namesfindung dieses Onlinemagazins.

Der gute Herr Fallon hat hier 12 Songs geschrieben, die er selbst als „Couch-Songs“ beschreibt. Da setzt sich ein Typ auf das heimische Sofa und schreibt mit seiner Akustikgitarre Songs. Und man hört jedem einzelnen davon an, dass er auch genau so funktionieren würde. Falls da Bedarf ist, würde ich natürlich mein Sofa zur Verfügung stellen bei Gelegenheit.

Live wird er die Songs aber mit alten Bekannten und Weggefährten vorstellen. Und zwar sind das Alex Rosamilia (The Gaslight Anthem), Ian Perkins (The Horrible Crowes) und Catherine Popper (Molly & The Zombies).

Mich persönlich beschleicht in den Songs das Gefühl, dass hier weniger das oft angesprochene „Punk und Hardcorefeeling“ mitschwingt, sondern eher Klassiker wie Springsteen mitschwingen. Viele Songwriter versuchen sich in diesem Sound, aber keinem nehme ich das so ab wie Brian Fallon. Dieses Gefühl, diese Gänsehaut bei Songs wie „Rosemary“ konnte mir noch kein anderer Musiker zaubern.

Zwar schwärme ich als in die Jahre gekommener Fanboy ganz gerne mal für Musiker und bestimmte Platten, aber was Brian Fallon mit diesem Album schafft, hat lange keiner geschafft.

Von mir also nicht bloß eine Kaufempfehlung, sondern der Hinweis auf Kaufpflicht! Die Platte ist echt groß!

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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Thu Mar 03, 2016 8:34 pm

thanks for posting...I had a translation class at the university..but unfortunately I do not have time translating it :/
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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Sat Mar 05, 2016 3:36 pm

Another UK one:

Rocksound 8/10

[they devoted four-fifth of a page to it, most of it a huge photo of Brian, like on the album cover]



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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Sat Mar 05, 2016 3:44 pm

Rolling Stone 3½/5

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/brian-fallon-painkillers-20160304  [would this appear in the print edition as well?]


Gaslight Anthem frontman quiets down and looks forward

By Jonathan Bernstein March 4, 2016

After spending a decade singing openhearted confessionals as the frontman of New Jersey punks Gaslight Anthem, gravel-voiced Brian Fallon is turning down his amp for a solo debut full of acoustic ballads and midtempo alt-country songs. Fallon references heroes like James Brown and Van Morrison as he transforms rough old memories "from a long, long time ago" into communal punk-folk therapy. For a guy whose songs have always traded in the pains and pleasures of nostalgia, the Fallon of Painkillers seems to have arrived at a newfound, forward-looking clarity. As he puts it on the wistful closing ballad: "I don't let reminders get me down like before."  

Fallon recruited studio pros like Catherine Popper and Butch Walker to add delicate harmony vocals, spectral synths, and tasteful guitar flourishes. Some songs, like "Red Lights" and "Long Drives" counter Gaslight's maxed-out swagger with stripped-down sensitivity while others, like "Rosemary" and "Wonderful Life," offer a quieter take on the Replacements-inspired Americana that Gaslight does best. Painkillers isn't quite a rebirth, but with his band struggling to stay vibrant in recent years, it feels a little like a new morning.

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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Sat Mar 05, 2016 9:54 pm

CapedAvenger wrote:
Five reviews so far. Ten mentions of Springsteen (or close relations) and only one article fails to mention him at all.

I'm sick of the comparison same as everyone but for the first time ever I think it's warranted when talking about "A Wonderful Life".


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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Mon Mar 07, 2016 12:30 pm

AbsolutePunk.net - 9.0 / 10

http://absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=3791360

There aren't many people in music right now who are under more pressure than Brian Fallon. Labeled as the torchbearer of the classic rock tradition upon the release of 2008's The '59 Sound—the sophomore album from his Jersey-based quartet, The Gaslight Anthem—Fallon has spent the better part of his career not just having to live up to the quality of his own albums and songs, but to his idols as well. A lot of people got into Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan after hearing consistent references to each in Gaslight's early music. In fact, Gaslight's legacy got so entwined in the "inspired by Springsteen" narrative that fans started requesting Bruce songs at shows. Even Fallon's side project, the Horrible Crowes, got whipped up in the Springsteen tornado, drawing at least a handful of parallels to Nebraska. Let's be honest: figuring out a way to live up to an album as terrific as The '59 Sound is hard enough. Doing it when everyone is comparing your stuff to albums like Born to Run and Damn the Torpedoes is just downright unfair.

In a weird way, then, Painkillers, Fallon's first solo LP, is his opportunity to check all of that baggage at the door. Freed from the shackles of his bands and the fan expectations that go along with them, Fallon finally has the opportunity to sit back, slow things down, and re-evaluate. Solo albums have their own sort of mythos and preconceived notions, but they also come with the assumption that things are going to be different. No one's approaching this album expecting another '59 Sound, because it's not a Gaslight Anthem record. No one's expecting an Elsie part two, either, because The Horrible Crowes isn't the name on the sleeve. By making a record under his own name, Fallon finally has the chance to stop being "Brian Fallon: the next Springsteen" or "Brian Fallon: the savior of rock 'n' roll" and to focus instead on being "Brian Fallon: the songwriter."

With Painkillers, I had an opportunity that music writers don't normally get: the opportunity to hear the album early, absorb the songs, fall in love with them, and then stop listening—all before putting pen to paper to write a single word in judgment of it. I got this album in my inbox before Christmas; I interviewed Brian about it at the beginning of February; then I let it sit for a full month before finally pushing play again. What I discovered when I returned to Painkillers last week was that it already felt like an old favorite. These songs—which straddle the line between folk, alt-country, and classic rock—are so innately well-crafted that they feel like they've been here for years. Once a student of all things rock 'n' roll, Fallon has grown as a songwriter to the point where, on Painkillers, he's become the teacher, and there's no bigger compliment that can be paid to him than that.

The '59 Sound was a great record partially because it was so steeped in homage. If Bob Dylan hadn't already used the title, Love & Theft might have been a fitting name for The Gaslight Anthem's sophomore record, for how frequently Fallon pilfered lyrics wholesale from his favorite artists. It was a trick that could have easily become gimmicky or imitative in lesser hands, but Fallon used it to imbue his music with the vibrancy of a life lived with rock and roll as its guiding light. Listening to The '59 Sound was thrilling not just because it was a great rock record, but also because it so perfectly captured what rock 'n' roll music can be when you love it to the point of insanity. It was a record for soundtracking your life, about music that soundtracked lives.

Painkillers is slightly less meta in its execution, but the spirit of Fallon's songwriting hasn't lost any of its color or life. Right from the glockenspiel chimes of leadoff track and first single "A Wonderful Life," you can tell from every note of this album that it was a labor of love for Fallon. In our interview last month, the frontman-turned-solo-artist told me that, for his first go-it-alone project, he wanted to go back to his roots and channel the classic singer/songwriters he loved in his youth. Perhaps it's because I started my musical journey in a similarly Americana-drenched place, but to me, this record really does feel like coming home. From dusky folk ballads like "Steve McQueen" and "Honey Magnolia" to raucous kick-drum stompers like "Smoke" and "Red Lights" (both repurposed here from Brian's second side project, Molly and the Zombies), Painkillers finds Fallon resting in a pleasant traditional realm. Butch Walker, meanwhile, does career-best work in the producer's chair, giving the songs enough gloss to reflect their classic rock and vintage pop influences, but also leaving in enough dust and dirt to honor the folk music tradition Brian was chasing.

Painkillers always sounds familiar and welcoming, but contrary to what a few fans and critics will say, it only rarely sounds like a Gaslight Anthem album. The clearest reference point is "Rosemary," a rousing rock number that plays like a spiritual cousin to "Here Comes My Man" from 2012's Handwritten. Like that song, "Rosemary" is penned from a female perspective. Also like that song, it builds to one of the biggest, most emotional payoffs in Fallon's catalog. Following a scorching guitar solo from Walker, Fallon dives headlong into one of the best choruses he's ever written:

Now I hear you crying over the phone
Where have all the good times gone?
Down in a glass of shouting matches
Lost in the songs you don't write anymore
But hey, hey, hey, it's alright
I ain't trying to bring you down tonight
And oh, my, my, she said, 'I don't mind
'Cause maybe someday they're gonna love me back to life

The last two lines of the chorus change with every repetition, concisely chronicling the tortured loneliness of the song's adrift title character. Here, though, they take on a profound and empowering punch. Accompanied by drums, pounding in double-time, and led by Fallon's fiercest bellow, the song leaves a wreckage of doubt, confusion, and blood behind for the song's piercing outro. "My name is Rosemary, and you'd be lucky to meet me/My name is Rosemary, and you'd be lucky if you get to hold me," Fallon proclaims in the songs final moments. Regardless of what or who the song is about, those final lines send a universal message of freedom and hope. It's tough to picture a setlist going forward where "Rosemary" doesn't set the stage on fire.

Elsewhere, Fallon gets into his usual game of references and homage. Sonically, "A Wonderful Life" is his most Springsteen-indebted song in years; "Among Other Foolish Things" dismisses the Beatles' old mantra of "All You Need Is Love" as...well, foolish; the highway-ready "Long Drives" references "Always on My Mind" and "Into the Mystic," and has a knockout bridge about "a girl with a taste for the world and whiskey and Rites of Spring"; "Honey Magnolia" fits in nods to "Blowin' in the Wind," "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," and Bruce's "Racing in the Street" before sunsetting with one of the most gorgeous guitar solos ever; and "Open All Night" actually shares a title with a Springsteen song—though its hopeful, wistful vibe gets Fallon far enough away from the forsaken plains of Nebraska to safely quote a Don Henley song.

On first listen, Painkillers is deceptively simple and surface-level. It plays with so much immediacy that it feels like Fallon's "pop" record. After all, when was the last time he wrote songs as instantly catchy as "A Wonderful Life" or "Nobody Wins"? But the more time I've spent with this record, the more nuance and heart it has revealed to me. Fallon's albums have always been about the ups and downs of life, from the Ferris wheel youth of The '59 Sound to American Slang's maybe-we-ain't-that-young-anymore nostalgia, all the way to the post-divorce heartache of Get Hurt. Painkillers is no different, and as "Open All Night" reaches its final lines, it feels like Fallon is surveying his entire story from an older and wiser place. "And I will never know the town where you finally settled down/With the top back on the Cadillac and your sunglasses on/And you can't make me whole, I have to find that on my own/But I held you baby a long, long time ago/When we were open all night long."

That line, "I have to find it on my own," feels startlingly candid and pointed, given both the status of Painkillers as Fallon's first solo venture, and his recent comments about the uncertain future of The Gaslight Anthem. Even if there is no sixth Gaslight Anthem album, though, Fallon's story is far from finished. This guy is one of the best songwriters of his generation, in any genre, and if his future albums—solo or not—are as full of pleasures as Painkillers, we have nothing to worry about. "I don't want to survive," Brian sings in this album's stirring opening salvo. "I want a wonderful life." Suffice to say that, if Painkillers does signify the end of something, it's fitting that it does so with every ounce of Fallon's signature romanticized hope still intact.

Great expectations, indeed.
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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Mon Mar 07, 2016 8:00 pm

interesting reading! thanks for posting
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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:16 pm

Under the Gun 9/10

http://underthegunreview.net/2016/03/09/review-brian-fallon-painkillers/


REVIEW: Brian Fallon – ‘Painkillers’
March 9th, 2016 | John Bazley

Let’s start with a bold claim, just so we all know where we stand: The Gaslight Anthem’s broken-hearted 2014 LP, Get Hurt, is their best record.

For some reason, a lot of critics disagree with that; Get Hurt is not exactly a popular choice amongst certain groups of the band’s fans (despite its leaps and bounds in songwriting diversity, killer production work courtesy of Mike Crossey, and a decidedly mature, cohesive lyrical thesis that takes an introspective look on divorce and the range of emotions that surround it—not to mention two of the band’s best B-sides in “Have Mercy” and “Halloween”—but I digress). The record received mixed critical reception from popular outlets, which dampened the band’s spirits and partially led to their decision to take some time off. “For the first time there was some things I definitely got skewered on,” Brian Fallon told Noisey back in January. “I didn’t feel like Get Hurt freed me to do anything. Matter of fact, I felt like Get Hurt bound me a little bit. I almost felt like I got smacked for doing it.”

Born out of the ashes of The Gaslight Anthem is Painkillers, Fallon’s first solo outing. Despite Fallon’s claims that Get Hurt restrained his creative process, bits and pieces of that record’s brilliance can be found on Painkillers, showing Fallon’s continued growth as a songwriter more than capable of breaking out of the New Brunswick basement scene that birthed his main project. Painkillers features nine brand new, poppy folk-rock songs, as well as three re-recorded songs from Fallon’s low-key 2014 side project, Molly & The Zombies, all done up nicely with production work from Butch Walker. It’s a fantastic record that expands on some of the best lyrical themes of Get Hurt, while diving deeper than ever into the nostalgic Americana sound that Gaslight are perhaps best known for.

But to clear the air—Painkillers is not a Gaslight Anthem record. In fact, with the possible exception of the more rock-flavored songs in “A Wonderful Life” and “Rosemary,” it’s very far from it. Gone are any punk rock stylings, distorted guitars, and Bruce Springteen-meets-Bouncing Souls aesthetics. Fallon’s signature songwriting style remains intact, hence the comparison, but this is clearly a solo venture, featuring songs that wouldn’t necessarily serve their purpose with the rest of the band. Frankly, it’s better for it. The campfire acoustic vibe of “Smoke” certainly wouldn’t work as a two-and-a-half minute punk song, nor would the shamelessly country “Long Drives” work near as well in a rock-and-roll setting. The baggage of The Gaslight Anthem’s punk cred is entirely out of the question here, and in allowing the songs to breathe without the necessity of Stone Pony-ready, live intensity is a wise choice.

Butch Walker’s flawless production work is a perfect match for Fallon, and it’s hard to believe that it took this long to get the two in the studio together—they’re a match made in heaven. At times reminiscent of his work on Frank Turner’s Positive Songs For Negative People, Walker manages to utilize a myriad of interesting sounds like pedal steel guitars and some of the best sounding drums I’ve heard on a singer-songwriter record, all while maintaining Brian’s core songs as the center of attention. The full band elements and production choices are never distracting, and only serve to make the writing at each song’s core sound better—a perfect production thesis. Acoustic guitars sound great as they jangle wildly above handclaps and Fallon’s characteristic rasp in “Smoke,” making the new version wildly improved over the years-old Molly & The Zombies demo that’s been floating around the web. Slick pop mastering works wonders for the catchy title track and Tom Petty-inspired “Nobody Wins,” while saloon-inspired keys bounce around on “Mojo Hand,” the record’s pompy, experimental jaunt that’s sure to polarize fans—depending on the day, “Mojo Hand” is either my favorite track on the album or skippable fodder that’s only separating me from fantastic closer, “Open All Night.”

The record surely stands on its own in the Brian Fallon canon musically, but Painkillers is very much a follow-up to Get Hurt from a lyrical standpoint. In tracks like “Nobody Wins,” Fallon shows that he’s slowly but surely moving on from the love-life woes that define Get Hurt’s lyrical content; “Hey, little tommy-gun, I guess we’re never gonna end up the lucky ones. Oh, if I never see you again, have a round on me, love. Hallelujah, nobody wins.” Elsewhere, on “Open All Night,” Fallon reflects on the passage of time and the pursuit of happiness after divorce: “I will never know the town where you finally settled down, with the top back on the Cadillac and your sunglasses on. And you can’t make me whole, I have to find that on my own.” It’s a far cry from returning to the wide-eyed optimism of tracks like “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts” or “The Backseats,” while simultaneously showing that Fallon hasn’t completely forgotten the lessons learned from Gaslight’s often-divisive final LP. The lyrics are certainly accessible as Fallon’s most radio-friendly release to date, but longtime fans will find rewarding lines that continue Fallon’s career-wide narrative in a meaningful way.

I’m sure many will see Painkillers as a return to form of sorts for Fallon—despite my unabashed love for Get Hurt, I’m aware that many fans would have much preferred a Springsteen-esque rock record, full of references and nostalgia and American imagery for windows-down, carefree listening. In that regard, Painkillers is sure to please. But for those of us who have stuck with Fallon throughout his various projects and don’t care much for the gimmicks, Painkillers shows us that Fallon still isn’t afraid to experiment, creating one of his best collections of music in the process.


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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Fri Mar 11, 2016 3:39 am

AV Club - B+

The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon shines on his solo debut

By Jonah Bayer

In the last decade, Brian Fallon’s Springsteen-inspired band The Gaslight Anthem became one of punk’s most popular acts. At Gaslight’s peak, Fallon started a indie-rock band called The Horrible Crowes inspired by PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, playing only a few shows. Now with Gaslight currently on hiatus, he’s released his first official solo album, Painkillers.

The opener, “A Wonderful Life,” starts with a machine-gun drum fill and harmony that probably won’t stop the Born To Run-era comparisons Fallon has endured for the past 10 years. But the song also features a sonic juxtaposition that’s one of Fallon’s greatest strengths. The music is upbeat and melodic, but the vocals sound like Fallon ingested sandpaper before heading into the booth. The lyrics are similarly downtrodden: While Fallon longs for “a wonderful life,” he’s going past the material possessions of that dream: “Maybe there’s more than the treasures we secure that become heavy chains to sink us in tidal waves.”

Beyond the title track’s Motown-meets-Tom Petty vibe, what stands out is an arrangement that complements the song’s simplicity without overshadowing the message. Ditto for the delicate ballad “Steve McQueen,” which opens with a fingerpicked acoustic line and builds to its slide-guitar-driven conclusion so delicately it’s just barely noticeable. The secret to Painkillers is that Fallon doesn’t overcomplicate things or second-guess himself, which must be liberating considering the daunting amount of pressure he’s under with Gaslight. And pairing Fallon’s vocals with piano (“Honey Magnolia”) and harmonious backing vocals (“Open All Night”) illustrates how versatile his voice is when he doesn’t need to scream over an overdriven amp.

Lyrically—as is the case with Gaslight—it’s difficult to tell if you’re hearing Fallon’s point of view or if he’s immersed himself in a character (ultimately, it’s probably somewhere in between). But abandonment is a central theme, as evidenced by lines like “You never ended up coming home / you just became something like some smoke / that I tried to hold” (“Smoke”), or “Where would I go if you left me on my own / who could take your place in my soul?” (“Mojo Hand”). When he sings, “I don’t need time to think about / I don’t let reminders get me down like before” on the album’s closer, “Open All Night,” it sounds like a small victory not only for Fallon, but anyone who has ever felt hopelessly alone.
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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Fri Mar 11, 2016 9:42 am

New York Times (incl. print edition) [not scored]

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/11/arts/music/review-brian-fallon-strikes-out-on-his-own-with-the-same-raspy-zeal-for-yesteryear.html


Review: Brian Fallon Strikes Out on His Own With the Same Raspy Zeal for Yesteryear

By JON CARAMANICAMARCH 10, 2016

With Brian Fallon’s voice, the decay is the thing. Pockmarked and abraded but still firm, it’s a vehicle for beautiful distress, for committed uncertainty. Over the last decade, primarily as the frontman for the Gaslight Anthem, he’s become a vessel for preserving some of the best bits of American rock, especially from the 1950s and 1970s, and also a singular nostalgist with a gift for lyrics that evoke a non-idyllic past without living in it.

Take “Red Lights,” an easily jangling bit of lite country-rock from his new album, “Painkillers” (Island), on which Mr. Fallon sings, “In all good faith and sentiment I can’t believe somehow/That I haven’t died of grief or something since you left this town/I’m all undecorated, cigarettes, standard white apartment walls.”

He played “Red Lights” near the beginning of his show on Wednesday night at Irving Plaza; it was quiet, verging on morose. He sang it gently, until it was almost still with exhaustion.

That hasn’t historically been a strength of Mr. Fallon’s. Part of what gave the Gaslight Anthem zip was the tension between Mr. Fallon’s insular wails and the band’s frantic energy — as Mr. Fallon was becoming more ravaged, the band would grow rowdier.

Mr. Fallon’s songwriting on “Painkillers,” his first true solo album, shows the same instincts he displayed in the Gaslight Anthem: a preoccupation with a particularly American stripe of yesteryear, a fondness for addressing women with charming names (“Lily, I don’t know how to start this letter”), a willingness to put the self on display in all its ugliness.

But he’s working without cover now: “Painkillers” is stripped down, gripping in places, and too bare in others. It’s produced by Butch Walker, who specializes in injecting pop energy into conventional rock. But what happens here is something of the opposite: “Painkillers” is Mr. Fallon’s most naked music, an approach that has scattershot success.

Mr. Fallon’s concert wasn’t just a showcase of his new solo material but also a referendum of sorts on his whole career outside the Gaslight Anthem. Several songs came from “Elsie” (SideOneDummy), his album as part of the duo the Horrible Crowes, with Ian Perkins, who was playing guitar here. (“Red Lights” was a song Mr. Fallon also recorded with one of his other projects, Molly and the Zombies.)

Sometimes the difference was clear — the show didn’t truly pick up until Mr. Fallon played “Go Tell Everybody,” a Horrible Crowes song. His vocal scrape was robust, and the band throbbed intensely behind him. The toggling between the intimacy of his solo numbers and the muscle of the Crowes songs continued throughout the night, right up to the closing song, “Behold the Hurricane,” one of the most powerful Crowes tracks.

Mr. Fallon worked hard to make sure his new solo songs weren’t lost, though. He was lovely on “Honey Magnolia,” which was delivered gently, with a bright undercurrent, and on “A Wonderful Life,” on which he sings, “Don’t you want a life like we saw on the picture show?”

Chasing the past has served Mr. Fallon well. But it is always a chase, as he makes clear on “Steve McQueen,” one of the most melancholy songs on “Painkillers”: “I could take my time, I could speed you up/I could pull you in, until you can’t get enough/Let’s go slip sliding in my veins.”

The song is about youth, rebellion, drugs, failure. The past casts a long shadow, but it’s also something that will never be recreated. Before Mr. Fallon played it, he talked about the heroes of generations past and how much better looking they were, and then said how pleased he was that his dad liked the song.

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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Fri Mar 11, 2016 9:53 am

Cultured Vultures

http://culturedvultures.com/album-review-brian-fallon-painkiller/

ALBUM REVIEW: Brian Fallon – ‘Painkillers' by Robert Dean (March 11 2016)

5.5

So, Brian Fallon’s new solo record Painkillers is confusing. Because let’s just get it out of the way: Painkillers sounds like the last few The Gaslight Anthem records. And that’s where the confusion sets in.

Fallon and The Gaslight Anthem took a break from one another on the terms that the band was straying away from its punk roots and going in more of a “Springsteen-esque” sound that was bumming them out.

They felt like they needed to step away from the band for a while and rediscover who they were, and try to harness the fire that dropped classics like The 59’ Sound, and American Slang.

But, on Painkillers, the Springsteen is right there, mixed along with some Ryan Adams and off-putting attempts at alt- country. Brian Fallon is a fantastic wordsmith and an iconic front man of one of the best punk bands in the last decade, but country singer, he is not.

Another odd layer to Painkillers is the inclusion of Butch Walker, or better known as the guy who wrote and produced a bunch of pop punk records in the early 00’s. So, we’ve got Ryan Adams, pop punk guy, and an adverse lead singer who wanted not to write the record he just released with his full-time band?

What in the actual fuck is going on here, Brian?

Let’s be clear about something: I love The Gaslight Anthem. I own most of their catalog on vinyl. I know their stuff. But, Painkillers seems disingenuous. Maybe he had to get this record out of his system to move on in some way. Better put: Painkillers feels like the people you bang in between serious relationship, or “just getting the poison out” as one of my sketchy friends once told me.

The songs aren’t bad, they sound like meat and potatoes Brian Fallon songs. The gravely growl is still there; he still looks cool, and he’s even got a cover that rings back to the aforementioned 59’ sound. But, what Painkillers feels like it lacks the most, is heart. It just feels like…music. Nothing great, nor brilliant as we’re used to with Fallon. It’s just a collection of songs I could ignore while buying a new pair of Vans.

Had I not been a Brian Fallon fan, I’d of skipped right past this in a record store. It lacks impression. He may sell it to us that this record means something to him, but as a fan and a listener, it doesn’t feel that way. It seems cheap.

By all means, if you need the Brian Fallon fix, grab Painkillers. But, if you’re like me, you’ll hear it, and count the days till he gets back in the ring with The Gaslight Anthem once again. Brian Fallon is not a country singer; he’s a troubadour of New Jersey, who needs to lay off the Bob Dylan and get right with some Misfits and Ramones already.

Brian, we love you. But, we’re waiting for you to get your groove back.

Key takeaways from Painkillers:

‘Rosemary’ is straight up Springsteen, while ‘Steve McQueen’ drifts back toward the familiar Gaslight Anthem territory. ‘Long Drives’ is solid, despite the overbearing Ryan Adams thing going on.

Summary

All in all, I’d give Painkillers a solid 5.5 out of 10 – it’s not for lack of trying, it’s because it’s just not enough to soothe the separation anxiety from The Gaslight Anthem.
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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Fri Mar 11, 2016 10:07 am

That's a pretty scathing review. Feels like it has little merit though. I mean he's wrong right from the second paragraph:

Quote :

Fallon and The Gaslight Anthem took a break from one another on the terms that the band was straying away from its punk roots and going in more of a “Springsteen-esque” sound that was bumming them out.

Hard to take it seriously after that especially from someone who says they are a 'fan' of TGA.
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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Fri Mar 11, 2016 10:35 am

kjakm wrote:
That's a pretty scathing review. Feels like it has little merit though. I mean he's wrong right from the second paragraph:

Quote :

Fallon and The Gaslight Anthem took a break from one another on the terms that the band was straying away from its punk roots and going in more of a “Springsteen-esque” sound that was bumming them out.

Hard to take it seriously after that especially from someone who says they are a 'fan' of TGA.

Yeah and calling Butch Walker a pop punk guy..
That guy has to do more research before writing a review.
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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Fri Mar 11, 2016 2:58 pm

dyningscene 4/5


Friday, March 11, 2016 at 12:00 PM (PST) by Bizarro Dustin


http://dyingscene.com/news/album-review-brian-fallon-painkillers/


In 2009, right after The Gaslight Anthem had first begun to make their name known, there were rumors that front-man Brian Fallon would be recording a solo album. Fallon was quick to dismiss the rumors as nothing more but rumors. Which was fine because at the time the scene had become oversaturated with punk singers going rogue equipped with nothing but an acoustic guitar. Flash forward to the present: Here we are in 2016. The Gaslight Anthem is currently on hold and the scene has become more rounded out with full lineup solo projects, and Painkillers, Brian Fallon’s debut solo album, is now more than just some rumor fueled by the NY Times.

Let’s get right into it: Painkillers is the quintessential Brian Fallon record. This isn’t up for debate, nor is it a positive or negative statement. It’s just simply the most Brian Fallon record to date. Over the past decade, everyone has been quick to point out, both as praise and as criticism, that Fallon’s songwriting style is filled with the same themes and influences. Even when The Gaslight Anthem began to stray away what skyrocketed them to popularity, ever so slightly on 2012’s Handwritten but particularly on 2014’s Get Hurt, Fallon still couldn’t escape the shadows cast by Maria, radios, and classic cars. On Painkillers, Fallon uses those specific clichés sparingly (Maria and her radio are absent here, but there are mentions of Cadillacs in album closer “Open All Night”), but he sure as hell doesn’t shy away from waxing poetic. Is there a songwriter today that romanticizes the past more than Brian Fallon? Probably not. Whether this is a good or a bad thing remains entirely up to the listener.

That said, Painkillers isn’t just a carbon copy of any of Fallon’s other bands, and it’s not some album that could have been released by The Gaslight Anthem at another point in their career. Perhaps due to working with producer Butch Walker, the songs here are primarily built upon acoustic chord progressions, with everything else being wrapped around them. There are soft layers of twangy guitars mixed throughout the album adding an Americana flavor to the album and aiding the album to find its own identity. And while there’s an energy here, it’s a far cry from The ‘59 Sound. The album is at its most upbeat during lead single “A Wonderful Life,” “Rosemary” (the verses of which recall Frank Turner’s “Josephine,” from last year’s Positive Songs for Negative People, also produced by Walker) and the jaunty “Mojo Hand” (which is sure to raise some eyebrows due to its disruptive nature on the track list). Painkillers definitely sounds like a Brian Fallon album, but hardly like an album he’s made before.

Maybe, even though he’s expanded to sprinkling references to James Brown (“Honey Magnolia), Rites of Spring (“Long Drives,” heavily re-worked since its release as a Molly and the Zombies song), and The Beatles (“Among Other Foolish Things”) in his work, Fallon does have a distinct writing style that leans heavily on the same subject matters. And maybe he does take his cues from all the same places, as homages to Petty (“Nobody Wins”) and The Boss (the aforementioned “Open All Night” isn’t a cover, but there’s no way that title wasn’t intentional). But so what? Much like Elsie, Fallon’s solo outing has its subtle differences that distinguish it from the rest. Painkillers is a project that can be seen as a companion to his previous works, but it can just as well stand on its own.
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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Sat Mar 12, 2016 8:01 am

Some of you might like to see the review on my website.
I've kept it simple but think it says enough!
http://thesoulofaclown.com/2016/03/12/brian-fallon-painkillers/
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PostSubject: Re: BF 'Painkillers' - published reviews   Sat Mar 12, 2016 8:20 am

Here's my review for Daily Rock Magazine. It's in french, I'll try to translate it
http://www.daily-rock.com/brian-fallon-painkillers-review-chronique
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