Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Boys and Girls in America

The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America
Start with : 5. First Night, 6. Party Pit, 10. Chillout Tent 2. Chips Ahoy!

The mother fucking Hold Steady. On their third romp Craig Finn’s drunken bar band proves that even on Vagrant Records they still have the honesty and compassion about life in America. On their first two releases on French Kiss Records the Hold Steady wrote about a cast of characters who were well… really fucked up.

Let us start there. Almost Killed Me came out in 2004 and was a stand alone album that well rocked. The album's opener "Positive Jam" rehashed some of America's fucked up history as well as set the stage for the views and cynicism that Finn lives with. Some of the album’s lines were cleverly used in the follow up in 2005 when they released Seperation Sunday. In Certain Songs Finn sings "And the hard drugs are for the bar tenders." Right away when I was listening to Seperation Sunday I noted this line in “Caddle and the Creeping Things”. "hard drugs are for the bartenders / I might have mentioned that before." This throw back is really fun due to the comic and human nature Finn uses in his characters and is willing to show his own human side. So Holly's (short for Hallelujah who was also a Hood-rat) role became a central part and really the main character of the story. The rest of the cast of characters were set up here yet they had little depth. In They drank, did drugs, had sex, one was really religious. Holly ended the album with busting into a church on Easter Sunday.

The priest just kinda laughed.
The deacon caught a draft.
She crashed into the Easter Mass with her hair done up in broken glass.
She was limping left on broken heels.
When she said Father can I tell your congregation how a resurrection really feels?

That album really set the tone for The Hold Steady and let them really work off it. They left French Kiss Records and moved to Vagrant. Those new to the band should basically picture a band you’d see in the bar (pre-dance music in bars) and then make them 1000x better then you’d expect. The theme of the album is still on well… boys and Girls in America. Familiar characters come up and new situations arise. Craig dates a girl who can pick a winning horse at the races and they get high on the weekends in “Chips Ahoy!” Two star-crossed lovers O.D. on hallucinogens and make out in the recover tent in “Chillout Tent”… “You Can Make Him Like You” is a ironic story of how a girlfriend doesn’t have to deal with drug dealers and her boyfriend can do all the work.

This is the kind of album that you’ve heard stories of this stuff, or you know someone who has done it. The Hold Steady takes this American clichés of our generation and writes them into sing along drunken anthems. Well worth your time as well as the back catalogue.

Boys and Girls in America is much more polished then any previous work and makes Almost Killed Me look lo-fi. At first the production may be a turn off but with more listens and attention to the clever lyrics this is still the hold steady doing what the do best.

Verdict : buy it if you enjoyed the first two works. Those new give Seperation Sunday a go, and if you fall in love pick this up too.

On Other Notes :
I'll be posting on at least one a week.

Things I'm listening to:
Owen - At Home With

William Whitmore & Jenny Hoyston - Hallways of Always

The Walkmen - Pussy Cats

The Melvins - A Senile Animal

Sunday, October 01, 2006

And so it begins.

Okay, this begins the start of my music blog. I've been the music director at WSBU(St. Bonaventure university) for two and a half years. As well as an Intern at AAM Promotions, I had a small stay with French Kiss Records interning, and work at Boathouse Records when I can. WSBU was ranked number 2 college station in the nation by the Princeton Review, but really, that's just a resume piece. I'm going to try to keep a fairly updated on releases worth checking out, and some news if I find something to be worthwhile.

This is what I'm currently listening to this week :
My Morning Jacket - Okonokos (two disc live album)
Grizzly Bear - Yellow House (lullabye)
Blag'ard - Black Faced Clocks (Peaches and Cream)
Sparklehorse - Drempt for light years in the belly of a mountain
Amy MIllan - Honey from the Tomb
Ben Kweller - Ben Kweller
Black Heart Procession - The Spell (Just Not Words.mp3)

Reviews soon. As well as the starting of my essential purchases/band to check out.

For now please enjoy this song from Ryan Adams. It's amazing.

dot com motherfuckers.