Gasoline Heart - Thanks For Everything
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Record Label: Wygore Records
While The Gaslight Anthem was releasing their masterpiece Handwritten to much (completely deserved) critical acclaim last month, another fuel-powered band was quietly unveiling their magnum-opus-thus-far. If you liked Handwritten’s Tom Petty influence, you oughta get a load of the perennially underrated Gasoline Heart’s latest, Thanks For Everything. Truth be told, this is roughly where the comparisons end: Both have the word “gas” in their name, and both have a penchant for punk-infused classic rock revival. One glance at the song lengths (most of which clock in past 4 minutes, and some of which hit over 6) is enough to reveal that Gasoline Heart is operating on a different wavelength.
On Thanks For Everything, it’s a wavelength that’s free from any kind of pressure. But if you know Gasoline Heart at all, you now that’s the way they’ve always been – exempt from the pressures of a label, album sales, fans’ expectations, the industry fluff that should always be secondary. That’s why they’re usually the first band that comes to mind when I think of modern acts playing music purely for the love of music. “I don’t want tomorrow, but I think I want tonight,” they howl on “Susan & The Oak,” and that sentiment hangs over all 10 songs.
Here’s another reason they’re not The Gaslight Anthem: The production on this album is just about on the opposite end of the spectrum to Handwritten’s glossy sheen. It’s not a garage rock clang, but it’s certainly no studio magic. The impact is somewhat double-edged: On one hand, it’s obviously in line with the band’s authentic spirit, giving the songs a powerful, unadulterated, almost live feel – without a doubt the energy they intended to infuse. But it can also leave some of the choruses feeling a little thin. I’d love to hear, for example, “Left For Dead” outfitted with heavier and crunchier guitars. It’s a minor complaint though, and it’s easily solved by cranking up the volume.
What really draws me in, though, is the songwriting. The melodies, which I’ve found hit-or-miss with some of their back catalog, are strong and consistent here, even if they do borrow heavily from Petty. My favorite is “Left In the Dark,” which has the kind of timeless pop strut I’ve been waiting for them to recapture since I first heard “Paralyze” from 2006’s You Know Who You Are. The best part is in the second verse, where it goes, “There is a dream, one where she whispers songs. All of them are beautiful…” over a shift to a minor key. It’s hauntingly gorgeous, especially when the following lines reveal a cloudier premise: “All of them are dark and dull, about a city, one that burned for days… That’s the place I would like to lay.”
Elsewhere, “Out the Band,” “Rabbit Trail,” “Peppermint” and “Counterfeit Rock & Roll” are fierce bouts of rock. Then, things get mid-tempo on the existential “Everything Matters,” a thesis that asks, “Does it even matter if everything really matters? We are exactly who we are.” And closer “Thanks For Everything” wonders aloud about human mortality: “Others live to not make mistakes. Me? I like to wonder how, where and when don't matter much. What makes me think that I can rise and sink like the towers or the oceans tide?” It’s a turn for the philosophical that, pasted against the backdrop of Americana, surprised me, but maybe it shouldn’t have. After all, this is Gasoline Heart we’re talking about. They’ve never been guided by rules, only heart, and that hasn’t changed here, making Thanks For Everything all the more intriguing for it.
One of those underrated acts that just seems doomed to be under the radar forever; for some damn reason...saw Lou open for The Ataris in Bismarck, North Dakota...just him and his acoustic...stole the show. So much honesty and heart in these songs.