Huh. I think maybe I misunderestimated* The Hold Steady.
Perhaps subconsciously it’s because Craig Finn’s voice sounds exactly like the scruffy, leather-clad, black-dyed-spiky-haired lead singer for the house band in the movie Empire Records (“Gotta have it, really need it, Sugar High . . .”), but here I was pegging them as solely a raucous rock/punk band — when in reality the Brooklyn-based group has more depth than perhaps I gave them credit for.
The cuts I’ve heard from their critically acclaimed Separation Sunday (2005, French Kiss Records) were dirty and rusty, riff-heavy, with a pointed, wry spoken drawl to the lyrics (Exhibit A: “Banging Camp,” Exhibit B: “Your Little Hoodrat Friend“). I missed what some call the Springstonian threads in their tunes, hearing only some dirty Replacements-style rock ‘n’ roll (Finn’s previous band Lifter Puller was from MPLS). And it was good raw fun.
So when AOL Indie (wait . . . what?) offered up a free download of the second song I’ve heard off their upcoming Boys And Girls In America album (Oct 3, Vagrant), I was shocked to hear this melodic, wistful song with a rambling piano and strings:
“The First Night” – The Hold Steady
Some reviewers who have their advance copies are pegging Boys And Girls In America as one of their top albums of 2006 (the album is named after a line from Kerouac’s On The Road, so clearly this isn’t bathroom wall scrawl christening here). I also just learned that it is produced by John Agnello (Breeders, Drive-By Truckers, the new Sonic Youth, Son Volt).
Interesting. I stand enlightened and now am really interested in hearing their new album with open ears.
Their tour starts this Saturday, Masonic Temple Connecticut style.
The Hold Steady 2006 Tour
Sept 30 – Hamden, CT – Masonic Temple
Oct 1 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza
Oct 2 – Baltimore, MD – Ottobar
Oct 4 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl
Oct 5 – Birmingham, AL – Bottle Tree
Oct 6 – Memphis, TN – Hi-Tone Cafe
Oct 7 – Denton, TX – Hailey’ s
Oct 8 – Austin, TX – Emo’s
Oct 9 – Houston, TX – Walter’s on Washington
Oct 12 – Tucson, AZ – Club Congress
Oct 13 – San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick
Oct 14 – Costa Mesa, CA – Detroit Bar
Oct 16 – Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour
Oct 17 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
Oct 19 – Portland, OR – Lola’s
Oct 20 – Vancouver, BC – The Plaza Club
Oct 21 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile Cafe
Oct 24 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
Oct 25 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
Oct 26 – Chicago, IL – Metro
Oct 27 – Detroit, MI – Magic Stick
Oct 28 – Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern
Oct 29 – Ottowa, ON – Zaphods Beeblebrox
Oct 30 – Boston, MA – Middle East
Oh, and Stereogum’s got the news of the new Hold Steady podcast (which, really, has little to do with music from the actual band, but is a good excuse to listen to some Replacements and Bad Brains).
*that word’s just for you, Chad.