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John Lamb, Published September 04 2010

Lamb: Gaslight Anthem's Jersey pride

On the eve of Labor Day, Gaslight Anthem will bring the band’s odes to blue-collar lives and American dreams to The Venue at The Hub.

While buzz bands draw com-parisons to established acts, this collection of punk-bred rockers seems willing to shine a light on their pre-decessors.

If you’ve heard any name in relation to the New Brunswick, N.J., punks, it’s been Bruce Springsteen’s. After all, he is the don of Garden State blue-collar rock.

It also helped that the Boss joined his disciples onstage during their song “The ’59 Sound.”

A defining moment for a 5-year-old band to play with the home-state hero, no?

Guitarist Alex Rosamilia says he was too nervous to pay much attention.

“He was up there, and then he was gone,” he says. “I’ve seen more of it on YouTube than I remember from the day it actually happened.”

While others hear Springsteen in the Anthem, Rosamilia offers something a little more surprising.

“I hear The Cure in everything, and nobody picks that up,” he says, citing that singer/guitarist Robert Smith and guitarist Johnny Marr are some of his biggest influences.

He says the four members’ tastes vary, but there’s a bit of everything from Tom Petty to The National to Michigan’s Small Brown Bike. (Yeah, I’d never heard of them either.)

“It’s quite an assortment of flavors in there,” Rosamilia explains. “If

you listen carefully, you can hear it, but you have to know what you’re looking for.”

So what can you look for in Anthem’s, well, anthems?

On the group’s 2008 breakthrough album, “The ’59 Sound,” singer Brian Fallon wears influences on his sleeves. Or rather, he wears his influences like tattoo sleeves.

Tom Petty is easy to find. In “High Lonesome,” Fallon sings, “There were ‘Southern Accents,’ on the radio,” a reference to Petty’s album and song. “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” may be lifted from a Tom Robbins book, but Fallon name-checks the Florida singer, proclaiming, “I still love Tom Petty songs.”

And if you’re tuned in to the classic rock, you won’t miss Fallon lifting some Bob Seger lines from “Night Moves.”

Gaslight even shows some soul on “Sound.”

In “Casanova Baby,” the singer gives a shout-out to Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away” and later references Wilson Pickett’s “Midnight Hour.”

But it’s hard to overlook all the Springsteen tie-ins. Some could just be happenstance usages of phrases like “dead man’s town” and “slip this skin.”

Others are more obvious odes to the Boss. Fallon quotes a whole line, “At night I wake up with my sheets soaking wet,” from “I’m on Fire.” And he flat out jams two titles from “Born in the USA” together, yelling “No surrender my Bobby Jean.”

Listening to the Anthem is kind of like musical geo-caching, except instead of using GPS, you’re holding Fallon’s iPod, trying to find the corresponding song. And it’s usually a real gem.

If you go

Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533