Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Hold Steady

Lately I’ve been fascinated by the Hold Steady. And when I say “lately”, I mean maybe the past year. I was first introduced to this band by Tom, who had a writing class with the mother of (I think) the bass player. He sent a link to their video for “The Swish”.

Later, Tom’s twin brother, and my best friend from college, Paul, sent me a mixCD he titled The Best of 2005. It took me a year to get into that CD, but when I did, I really got into “Cattle and the Creeping Things.” I remembered that I also liked “The Swish” and so, like 2 years later, I did some research on the band and discovered that they had several albums out and began to procure them.

Those of you who have been into this band in the beginning may ask why it took so long to delve deeper. I think mostly it was how singer Craig Finn more or less barked out the lyrics versus singing them. The lyrics are great, don’t get me wrong:

You in the corner with a good looking drifter
Two cups of coffee and ten packs of sugar
I heard Gideon saw you in
He said you were contagious

But I was wondering if those clever lyrics were maybe going to be too clever, because you can get sick of clever lyrics really quick. However, Hold Steady lyrics have just enough seediness in them that prevents them from ever getting clean enough to be annoying.

If you get into this band, you can start anywhere, but I think that getting into their albums in chronological order is best, since there are underlying themes. I just discovered the Hold Steady Wikia page, and while there might be another site with more information about the songs and the bands, this one looks like it could be a good start.

There are characters in the songs that recur, the two prominent ones being Charlemagne and Hallelujah (“Holly” for short). There are great references comparing rock music to religion, or religious services. It’s definitely not Christian rock, but I gotta give it to these guys for taking the “good” parts of Christianity and twisting them for their own rock and roll efforts. It’s about the only way Christianity is palatable to me.

They’re due to release their 5th album on May 4, titled Heaven is Whenever.



Blogger Narm said...

I've been obsessed with them for almost 2 years now. Their live show is even better than the albums (they toured with the Truckers two years ago, too).

They are smart, energetic and uncool in an unironic way.

And they aren't mad at anyone. Somewhere in the 90's it was decided anything led by guitar had to be angry - glad to see these guys buck the trend.

12:42 PM


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