The Hold Steady

While everyone is buzzing about the new Springsteen album Magic (I ordered but haven’t heard all of it yet), I want to direct your attention to a band that reminds me a great deal of The Boss of old: The Hold Steady

Boys_and_girls_in_americaOn the strength of just a few songs, I picked up Boys and Girls in America. The song that really reached out and grabbed me was First Night.

Pitchfork Media, which called The Hold Steady "America’s #1 bar band," gave the album a Rating: 9.4.  My favorite part of their review:

"It’s no wonder that critical darlings the Hold Steady aren’t exactly indie rock heroes. Marginalized to that world almost by default– radio and video are, for the most part, unkind to new rock bands not targeted at high-schoolers — the Hold Steady craft classic rock-indebted music that would sound better sandwiched between Born to Run and Back in Black than Illinois and Tigermilk . . .

[Frontman] Criag Finn does this is by ratcheting up the force and power of the music, layering guitar and trebly keys and multiple hooks on top of one another like a mid-1970s E Street Band or an E-boosted Happy Mondays. It’s rock’n’roll before it was ashamed to do either, and unlike on past efforts, lyrics can sometimes be summed up by lines that approximate the effect of a chorus, even if they’re presented more like a thesis statement: "I’ve had kisses that make Judas seem sincere," "When they kiss they spit white noise," the aforementioned "Gonna walk around and drink some more."

That sounds just about right to me. Other reviewers have also been enthusiastic:

Rolling Stone:    "…bizarrely touching and insanely original."

SPIN"  "a raucous album rife with heavy guitar licks and more cultural references than Paul’s Boutique."

Pitchfork: "One of the most convincing rock bands to emerge in recent years…unadulterated aggression and ear-splitting amps."

You can see more about the disc here

There’s a good interview with the band, and an acoustic version of Chips Ahoy at NPR (which is very unlike the production sound of this disc). 

Stuck Between Stations

MARGARITA (Acoustic)

The full run of "authorized" videos are here.

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Kevin commented on Oct 4

    If I’m not mistaken, their main influence was The Last Waltz. I think the Robbie Robertson comparison is easier to draw than the Springsteen one.

  2. James E commented on Oct 4

    An American Elvis Costello?

  3. x-man commented on Oct 5


    this is proof that econ geeks are…geeks. This band is terrible. I suggest you try ARCADE FIRE if you want to see some talent. I was with you on your REM posts, but you’re out of touch buddy.

    Go buy either Arctic Monkeys album for starters. Try the second Killers album if you insist on neo-Springsteen (please don’t).

    I love your macro takes but this attempt to highlight a good new band was like ripping off a band aid.

    I’m not a hater–I’m your generation. I had Hatful of Hollow. I love Neil Young. I just still keep up. This band makes my skin crawl.

  4. x-man commented on Oct 5



  5. Patrick commented on Oct 5

    I’ve been a big Hold Steady fan for a few years. I definately reccomend picking up their first two albums if you enjoy Boys and Girls in America. Seperation Sunday is one of the best albums of the decade.

  6. MattC commented on Oct 5

    Sorry, I think x-man is off his rocker. Arcade Fire and the Arctic Monkeys are radio/MTV takes on great indie rock like The Hold Steady, but aren’t near as good. I’ve read Barry pimp The Magic Numbers before, and they are great (bring on album #3). I first saw them open for Bright Eyes in 2005 at the Philadelphia Academy of Music.

    In this vein I’d recommend the latest Rilo Kiley album, Matt Pond PA, and Broken Social Scene. And of course Bright Eyes.

  7. steve commented on Oct 5


    I agree that this is a great finance blog, but I listened to this band a while ago based on the same hype.

    THEY SUCK!!!!!!

    avoid them if you are thinking they are like the boss, they are terrible.

    killers, arcade fire, cyhsy, lcd soundsystem, anything new like that is fine.

    this band is terrible.

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