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While not technically an Upstate band or scheduled to come through (for now muhahahaha), we are technically outside of our jurisdiction on reviewing the new Gasoline Heart album. But after coming through three times last year (twice solo and once full-band), I’d feel bad if we didn’t cover this release. Gasoline Heart has garnered their share of Upstate loyalty at this point and the old-fashioned way, so credit where credit is due.
From the very beginning, with a flubbed chord, stop, laugh and eventual re-emergence into song it’s safe to say this Gasoline Heart album is a little looser than previous outings. Not to say it’s loose in a sloppy, drunk kinda way, but the looseness that comes with confidence and experience. From the band’s rise into public consciousness, they were labeled in the “ex-punker that loves Bruce Springsteen” category, mostly undeservedly so, and anyone looking for traces of that will be left in the dark as the band sheds any preconceptions of that stigma into a more loose Tom Petty vibe (ironically often the ex-punkers next stop down his road to musical discovery).
The album shoots out of the cannon with opener “Out The Band” which, if anyone knows lead singer and sole original member Louis Defabrizio, might as well be the a Gasoline Heart theme song. It’s the albums establishing piece and makes you realize just how good the band is when they’re firing on all cylinders. Next up, “Left For Dead” is a logical follow-up with it’s slow build into Louis’s subtle yet effective hooks for the chorus. Fourth track “Susan & The Oak” is perhaps my personal favorite song on the album, as I had it pegged for a ballad on first listen and when the band kicks in it’s total payoff.
Speaking of ballads, a lot of times now we’re so conditioned towards them that we know it’s either a purposeful grab for either the A.Cash or B.to slow down the pace of the album or set. Luckily Defabrizio has the rare gift to actually make a ballad worth listening to without the inwards cringe of giving into a guilty pleasure. Particularly in the Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness-esque “Kiss Your Dreams Hello”.
The band are all in top form as drummer Dave Petersen threatens to steal the show at times, and of note is new piano/keyboard player Kirk Henderson who does a great job of fleshing out the arrangements without showboating. The instrumental interplay is top-notch all around, but unfortunately you can have too much of a good thing.
Beginning around track 5 the record loses much of it’s pre-built steam with a seven-minute ballad plunked right down in the middle of it, followed by another track which passes the six-minute mark. While I love “Left In The Dark” as a song, the two-minute outro marks it D.O.A due to it’s sequencing. “Counterfeit Rock & Roll” does a good job of picking up the pace, but it’s almost too little too late. While there are some great songs in the latter half (“Peppermint” and “Everything Matters”), unfortunately we never fully can get back into a steady pace again. It’s a shame because No Code-esque closer and title track “Thanks For Everything” is a gorgeous end to the album. But at 47-minutes and only ten songs, this isn’t an easy listen for casual music fans, this one is going to require more dedication than some will be willing to muster.
While it has been a while coming, this album will definitely appease fans eager for a new release. You can buy a digital copy at the bandcamp link below or a copy on vinyl at the band’s merchstore here. I’ll leave you with what the band has posted on their official webpage:
“Thanks for being patient with us.
We hope you dig what we made and if you don’t?
Well then I guess all I can say is
Not my problem”
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