The Gaslight Anthem Sink or Swim

New bands take note: New Jersey’s Gaslight Anthem have reset the bar on what people can expect from a debut effort. Sink or Swim is an absolutely stunning album that at its core draws equally from punk, rock and folk. The album’s opening track, "Boomboxes and Dictionaries,” is an up-tempo number with some "whoo-oh-ohs” that will sound familiar to any fan of Against Me! However, it may not have been the best song to lead things off with, as either "Wooderson” or "Drive” would have served that role more appropriately. In fact, the sequencing may be the only thing wrong with Sink or Swim; it seems to be arranged in an almost arbitrary fashion, with acoustic songs breaking the momentum when another selection would have kept things going at a more "total rock out” pace. Vocalist Brian Falon’s lyrics are full of Springsteen-esque Americana and peppered with elements of Billy Bragg and Woody Guthrie. His almost romantic references to driving and things having a tendency to work out okay are as enjoyable to listen to as the music, which at often times is carried by the modest but technically brilliant guitar playing of Alex Rosamilia. Sink or Swim is one of the best punk albums 2007 has seen, and if it’s any indication, Gaslight Anthem are due to explode. (XOXO)