Springsteen 2.0: Can Baby Bosses Cruise The Backstreets?
This fall, Houstonians salivating for another touring run by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band don't have to search to hard to find bands heavily influenced by the man's sound and work ethic. Even though Springsteen and his merry band of musicians may be cooling their road heels for the next year or so, that doesn't mean you have to go hungry.
One of the most prominent bands today with the Springsteen sound is the Gaslight Anthem, and they will be headlining what looks like a nearly sold-out show Thursday night at Warehouse Live. The band's last two albums, 2008's The '59 Sound and this year's American Slang, are both steeped in Jersey exhaust and sweat.
We compiled a list of some bands who have dipped into the stream to swig off the man's sound, be it lyrically, musically or stylistically. White T-shirts and blue jeans are still pretty cool.
The Gaslight Anthem: Of all the younger bands out today, the one that garners the most kudos for sounding like Bruce Springsteen while not sucking at it is The Gaslight Anthem. Rocks Off didn't hop on the TGA train until we heard "Miles Davis & The Cool" sometime in late 2008, and then we snagged their earlier, rougher stuff. The band hails from the same New Jersey as Springsteen, making them a veritable legacy band.
Fake Problems: There's a point on the end of Fake Problem's 2008 track "Dream Team" when the band has a full on Boss breakdown, total "Born To Run" stuff. When you hear it live, you get goosebumps. Even at the Warped Tour.
Lucero: Lucero always had Springsteen's lyrical bent down but on their last album, 1372 Overton Park, they added brass to the mix, courtesy of a few Honeybears from Austin. The ramshackle characters in lead singer Ben Nichols' songs became almost heroic with the hot injection of soul.
The Hold Steady: This band's Separation Sunday was a sort of Born in The U.S.A. for hoodrats and bar dwellers. Lead singer Craig Finn knows how to pack syllables and kiss-offs into his lyrics like no other. He tells stories worthy of the big screen, much like our friend from Jersey.
Against Me!: Before TGA was doing it, Against Me's Tom Gabel was making drastic moves toward Boss-like territory. Where TGA's Brian Fallon has Bruce's honeyed growl, Gabel's voice is much more grizzled, and he has the protest bent in spades. To hear maximum Boss-y Gabel, pick up his solo EP Conceptual Paths.
Kings Of Leon: On the band's Because of the Times, the band was just on the cusp of changing, turning into what we know them now as, an arena band with legions of pretty blonde girls squealing their names. Caleb Followill's lyrical slant was coming from a very Bruce place in 2006: People having babies, escaping turmoil, turning their backs on dreams. You can read about drummer Nathan Followill's encounter with the Boss here.
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists: Aside from Leo's professed love of Thin Lizzy, Springsteen obviously influences the swagger in his work. He takes the punkier side of the Boss, a Clash devotee of the highest order, and routinely infuses it with elements from Darkness On the Edge of Town.
Arcade Fire: Some have called Arcade Fire's new album, The Suburbs, a sort of The River for the IPhone generation. We aren't sure about that, but Win Butler and Bruce Springsteen became fast friends during AF's rise. SPIN put the pair on the cover of its November 2007 issue, running a conversation the two had together.
The National: To bite off a colleague's assertion, The National's lyrics are sort of like those on the Boss' Nebraska, albeit set in the big city instead of Jersey, filled with big city lovers with even bigger romantic problems.
The Killers: The Killers only bit off the Boss for one album, Sam's Town, which saw the indie-poppers growing facial hair and hitting the metaphorical road. "When You Were Young" was trying to be a sequel to "Dancing In The Dark" and didn't quite make it. The band abandoned the Bruce schtick and put back on the glitter for their next album, 2008's Day & Age, but did keep the vamping.
Honorable Mentions: Murder By Death, Dropkick Murphys, Drive-By Truckers, Justin Townes Earle, Two Cow Garage, Joe Pug, Low Anthem...