I have seen some reviews on this one so far being disappointed with this release and they all seem to have one problem: they all rely on comparisons to Gaslight Anthem. This is forgivable considering that The Horrible Crowes are a side project of Brian Fallon. It is also something I am guilty of myself with other artists. In fact it may only slightly shy of a miracle that I came in to listening to this one without any expectations. Just to summarize so far: this is not a Gaslight Anthem album it is a completely separate effort and it is the first release by those involved all working together. With that said…

You can find all the backstory about how Brian and Ian (Gaslight’s guitar tech) wrote this in the back of the bus while swapping records all over the web so that’s the only touching on that I really want to do. Brian is a great lyricist and Elsie does not disappoint on that front. The lyrics are rich stories, as we have come to expect from Mr. Fallon, but with Ian’s influence go a little different direction than the writing we have heard from him to date. He weaves in religious themes with a subtlety that you may not even catch the first time through. The depths that are explored here are worth going through and Brian and Ian do an excellent job leading the journey. From love to guilt to shame, it doesn’t matter where these two kids want to take us, the lyrics are there to light the way. In fact, the lyrics are the strongest aspect of this release without a doubt!

Where I wasn’t impressed was the music. The arrangements feel like they could have used a little more work. It’s almost as if the depth of the music, at some points, just don’t meet the depths of the lyrics. I like the album overall but every time I listen to it I am left feeling like it could have been better. There is unfulfilled potential here that I would like to see expounded on. I hope Brian and Ian continue to play around in this arena because I want to hear more but I sincerely hope they spend as much time putting the tunes together as they do the lyrics and fulfill the potential I can hear on this one. And while I strongly believe there is unfulfilled potential here Elsie is worth your time and your hard earned money. It’s not going to make the album of year running for me but it also is going to stay on my music player for the foreseeable future. It is a good first effort from the folks involved and it is good enough to deserve your support.

The Horrible Crowes – Behold The Hurricane
The Horrible Crowes – Crush
The Horrible Crowes – Blood Loss

The Horrible Crowes official website, The Horrible Crowes on Facebook, Buy Elsie


  1. I completely disagree. I saw them live in NYC back on the 8th and the show was phenomenal. The music on the album is rich and full yet subtle. I think Brian has called it nighttime music, and that’s what it is…music to relax to. You’re right, it certainly isn’t Gaslight, nor should it be, but compared to the other solo/acoustic stuff that Fallon has done that’s floating around on the interwebs, this is top notch. And in my opinion, is up there with Josh Small fighting it out for album of the year thus far.

  2. I don’t think it should Gaslight and would have been disappointed if it had been. The music just seems unfinished to me. As for the Fallon stuff floating around YouTube that’s on the spot and not produced which makes a huge difference. That’s like saying a band sounds different live than in the studio. Comparing it to Fallon solo is the same sort of mistake as comparing it to Gaslight. The music just doesn’t suck me in like I wanted it to. It doesn’t become part of the atmosphere. You can disagree all you like but that won’t change my opinion on it. To me it seems like the music is strictly there to accompany the amazing lyrics and it falls short of my expectations. Lyrically I was blown away but lyrics without music that matches their quality does not a great album make.

  3. And I certainly hope you don’t think your opinion isn’t welcome. I just read through and thought I could explain better. Our tastes obviously vary as neither album you mentioned is likely to make my top ten but that’s what makes 9B great. We have a staff of varying opinions and readers who aren’t afraid to sound off!

  4. It’s an album that slips into a lot of cracks, it succeeds where it really shouldn’t and falls short where it’s supposed to be good, but the failings somehow make it more relatable. I wouldn’t use the mighty internet to criticize Brian Fallon’s writing as much as I do if I didn’t love it so much–but, seriously, every song is the fucking same and he uses the same exact imagery in the same exact ways. So, the words are turds to me on this one, but that somehow works in the albums favor for me, because I get to stop paying attention and dig on the music. Though it’s sparse, I wouldn’t want it finished-up any more, I love the empty space. I love that it doesn’t sound like Ted Hutt produced it, they went for the Daniel Lanois. This album, by being so mediocre in such an understated way, can adapt to fit a lot of situations that more challenging/rewarding albums can’t do. I like it for being mediocre, it still feels like they put some heart into it. I hate Foreigner for being mediocre.

  5. I completely disagree about the music aspect of this album. One of the best parts about this side project is Brian and Ian can work with sounds that just wouldn’t fit in Gaslight songs and I think they did that beautifully. Like you said the words are amazing, so it helps that the music steps back in some ways. It forces you to pay attention to the words while subtly creating a feeling behind them. That’s my view.

    As for the guy who said the words are repetitive and such I would like to point out that that happens with most writers so nothing new here but I won’t deny it happens on this album. However, one of the reasons he keeps using some of them is that they’re good. The theme of the album is present in every song (that’s what makes it an album) but they are definitely distinctive. I won’t bore you with an explanation of each as to how but they are.

Comments are closed.