February 2018 Rock Record of the Month - Brian Fallon - Sleepwalkers
Blind Tiger Record Club’s Rock Record of the Month - Brian Fallon - Sleepwalkers:
Many of us at B.T.R.C. have always been fans of The Gaslight Anthem. They have bounced around the indie scene for years. While getting some critical buzz, they never seemed to really break through as a commercial success even though they consistently skated around the edges.
For example, in 2008, Gaslight became the first band ever to be featured on the cover of Kerrang! even though the magazine had NEVER written about them. That was the album The '59 Sound and in many ways, this was a break out album for the band. It was the bands second release and it was responsible for getting the band solid opening slots touring with prominent rock acts as well as major festival slots; especially in the UK.
In spite of little to no radio success, the band kept touring hard and growing their fan base, which kept drawing the attention of both critics and labels. In 2011, the band signed with Mercury Records and released their fourth record; Handwritten. This album did produce the bands biggest radio milestone with the track "45". This is still the bands most recognizable song to date in the US. It went #22 Billboard Rock, #11 Billboard Alternative, and #20 on Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks. The album also debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200. That's the bands highest position to date.
In 2014, the band released their fifth studio album. Mercury Records had been gobbled up by Island Records. The band came to Nashville and recorded the new album and it was definitely the most ambitious album yet. It Debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 (#1 on Billboard Alternative Albums and #2 on Top Rock Albums). But once again, radio eluded them.
The band has always sold records even though they never wrangled in the biggest influencer around with mainstream radio. In 2015, the band announced on Facebook that they would wrap the next European tour and then they were "taking a break from The Gaslight Anthem". They struggled some the previous couple of years and almost broke up then. They were burnt out and felt they had nothing left to say as Gaslight. They didn't want to go "right back to making a record, just for the sake of making the next record" the band stated in that same Facebook post. Several members had side projects they wanted to persue. Fallon was no stranger to side projects. He had previously put out releases with side bands The Horrible Crowes and Molly and the Zombies. What he had not done is a solo record.
So, in 2016, Brian Fallon released his first solo album, Painkillers, on Island Records. The album was produced by none other then the amazing Butch Walker. Recorded in Nashville, Walker and Fallon delivered a refreshed album that charted on everything from alternative to Americana. It Debuted at #30 on Billboard 200 (#3 on the Top Rock Albums). American Songwriter ranked the album at #29 on its "Top 50 Albums of 2016".
In 2017, Fallon returned to the studio. This time, he recorded in New Orleans and reunited with The '59 Sound's producer Ted Hutt. “I wanted to know who I was when we did The ’59 Sound, before the Kerrang! cover, before the Hammersmith Apollo. Who was that kid who walked into make that record?” Fallon told Roisin O'Conner in an interview for the Independent.
Fallon has always had a unique vocal. He has also been heavily influenced by Bruce Springsteen, The Clash, and Bob Dylan. On Sleepwalkers, he delivers rock songs that are anthemic enough on every song to draw in even the most casual listener. His vocal intensity is woven into solidly written and crafted songs.
We at B.T.R.C. are also excited to see that The Gaslight Anthem is reuniting for a run of shows to promote The '59 Sound's 10th anniversary. So, along with getting a great new Brian Fallon solo record (that in many ways is a nice bookend to The '59 Sound), you can catch Gaslight Anthem out on the road playing one of their most revered albums.
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What critics are saying about Sleepwalkers
Travelling on an empty train from New York City across snow-strewn fields and frost-covered lakes to Asbury Park, New Jersey is a strangely cathartic experience. Listening to Brian Fallon’s new solo album Sleepwalkers is the perfect soundtrack, too; opener “If Your Prayers Don’t Get To Heaven” is this big, uplifting folk-rock jam with Fallon’s rousing vocals, that seems as though it were written for a train journey.
Roisin O'Conner for The Independent, "The quiet, eventual optimism of Brian Fallon"
Brian Fallon is – in the best possible way – the cosy comfort blankie of modern American guitar music. The erstwhile frontman of The Gaslight Anthem can always be relied upon for a hefty happy hour serving of anthemic rock’n’roll tunes that sound best crackling out of the speakers of a classic car or the jukebox of a dive bar, each pinned down by a voice made of gravel, broken glass and your favourite busted denim jacket.
On Sleepwalkers, Fallon both returns to and embraces the muscular rock he flexed with the Gaslight Anthem on their celebrated 2008 breakout The '59 Sound, reuniting with that album's producer Ted Hutt, and adding elements of Sixties soul, doo-wop and sneering punk to create his most satisfying non-Gaslight project to date.
Joseph Hudak for Rolling Stone, "Brian Fallon on New Solo Album 'Sleepwalkers,' Gaslight Anthem Reunion"