Must Have CD's

by Donn Swaby



How to Walk Away - Juliana Hatfield

I must confess, I am not familiar with all of Juliana Hatfield's previous works, but her present offering, How to Walk Away , seems to be her unique sound. This track is comprised of simple, sometimes breathy, vocal deliveries laid over easily digested musical arrangements that leave more attention to be focused on her lyrics.

I was delighted to experience the way in which her sound grows on you. Her voice may not be distinctive, but it is rather smooth and relaxed- no matter what she's singing about. In this case, the general theme of the songs is one of new beginnings and trying to heal from the trauma of recently ended relationships. She sings about how the pain of being alone sucks ( This Lonely Love, So Alone ), but not nearly as much as the pain of compromising oneself by staying in a relationship long past its prime ( Not Enough ). At the end of the day, songs like Laws of Nature remind us that we must forgive ourselves for falling in love with someone who may not be the best thing for us by reminding us that love, among other things, is not entirely logical or rational. Just Lust, separates emotion from the fulfillment of sexual needs, perhaps better than most lovers can and indeed, perhaps better than most men. In the midst of all this breakup heartache, the quietly tragic My Baby turns one inward and Such a Beautiful Girl bring about the realization that the most important person to love is you.



59 Sound -The Gaslight Anthem

A sophomore offering from this New Jersey band, ‘59 Sound is soulful, catchy, high energy, and upbeat, which is why I was a bit surprised to find out that The Gaslight Anthem is considered punk. I guess that means new punk, unlike the anger laden, unintelligible punk rock of the angst-ridden, rebellious 70's, with its fast paced beat and purposeful limitation of chords. These guys are not jut conveying sincere emotion, but are actually slowing down just a little to tell engaging stories while simultaneously evoking sweet nostalgia for simpler times, with songs like The ‘59 Sound, Great Expectations, and Old White Lincoln . For me, those times were immediately after college in Weehawken, NJ when I would walk over to Hoboken to bar hop at places like Bahama Mama's and the Whiskey Bar on Washington Street, drinking and dancing the night away. Wherever your sentimentality, you will find yourself listening and saying…ah, the good old days.

Listening to their songs you can't help but feel good, even when they have a somewhat sad, tragic quality ( Here's Looking at You Kid, Miles Davis & the Cool ). They make you want to dance with other people, and celebrate life. And of course, with his earthy, gritty vocals, lead singer Brian Fallon evokes memories of early Bruce Springsteen, which isn't a bad thing. If you like genuine, soulful “punk” rock guaranteed to trigger your feel good memories, definitely give The Gaslight Anthem a try. You won't be disappointed.


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© Melt Magazine 2009