That's cool. Brian, just like any other person I suppose, seems pretty impulsive in terms of what he says and thinks about things, so I'm sure he could very well rank the albums differently if you ask him another time. Or maybe he wouldn't, I don't know.
Either way, it's a tough thing to do, even as a fan. Do you judge it solely by the quality of the songs? The production? The impact it had on your life? Do you go with "best record" or "favorite record"?
I say all of us make lists in this thread because it's always fun to get new perspectives on things.
1. Get hurt
I might be alone in this, but Get hurt is definitely my favorite album. As amazing as their other albums are, this is the only record of theirs to actually tear me to pieces. The title track got me sobbing the first time I heard it, Have mercy always makes me melancholic, and Stray paper just has this intense, bleeding heart kind of urgency to it. I feel like that's a good word to pin on this album, urgency and sincerity. Not that their other albums are not sincere, but this one is so stripped away of any kind of nostalgic or cinematic imagery. It's just Brian and his demons. I feel like Get hurt is that distress phase of heartbreak where you're torn between "I have to be with her" and "I can't be with her".
Objectively (and even subjectively at times) I don't think this album is the most consistently good, but it is without a doubt my favorite. I think it's really ballsy of the band to stray as far away from "them" as they did, and even though that effort is a bit hit and miss, it's always going to be the one that hits me the hardest.
2. American slang
This album is the one that really made me a fan. When I heard that opening riff I knew that The Gaslight Anthem is a band for me. The only thing keeping it from being a 10/10 record, in my opinion, is the production being kind of dry. I miss the open chords and the sweeping, reverb soaked soundscapes. I don't even listen to it all that often anymore because of that, but even so it's always gonna stand out as the one record that got me into the band, and because of that I hold it in high regard. Not to mention the songwriting is fantastic.
3. Handwritten - 4. The '59 Sound
Choosing between these two was a tough call. I put Handwritten before '59 Sound simply because there are more songs on it that I actively listen to. It didn't fully live up to my expectations, but probably half of the album are some of my favorite Gaslight songs.
5. Sink or swim
I like the youthful energy of SoS, but I feel that the album is kind of a hit and miss. Drive is always going to be one of my all time Gaslight-favorites, and I would listen to a handful other songs on repeat way back in 2011, but it hasn't aged that well for me. You can tell they were hungry, though, and as young as Brian was you have to commend him for his talents in songwriting.