US - New York - Full Moon 105 - 04/24/05
The Hold Steady
"Hornets! Hornets!" opens with stereopanned sing-speak whose personality oozes rock and roll machismo. It describes a degenerate girl the singer was apparently struck by. The sound of the band is big, simple, almost-classic, and Guitar Driven. The Hold Steady play a brand of Rock and Roll that isn't pulled off much any more, and they do it well. It's Rock with all the Pop stripped off, its fucked up spine made visible. "Cattle and the Creeping Things" continues the macho sing-speak, the sound of this song very consistent with what was set with Hornets!. "Your Little Hood Rat Friend" describes more characters that say and do crazy and extraordinary things. The culture that is oozed here is one that has as little to do with the suburbs as possible. The Hold Steady's Pixies influences (what?! a rock band with pixies influence?) begin to shine on "Hood Rat Friend". "Banging Camp" has another female character (possibly the same girl as before) at its center. The guitar sound gets really damned good after the short drum break at 2:20. What a beautiful sound!
This is such a wordy album, it's going to take a few listenings to get the whole story, and I believe these songs stand up to repeated listenings. The Hold Steady nicely have all their lyrics written out though, check this page: http://www.theholdsteady.com/lyrics.html#SEP6. They're really fucking good. "Charlemagne in Sweatpants" shines more nasty comedy. "Stevie Nix" allows itself to breakdown from heavy rock into a soft, and pretty piano. "Multitude of Casualties" is yet another amazingly written story. These lyrics, I can't overstate, are incredible. "Don't Let Me Explode" has one of those 50s maltshop chord progressions I love so much. This style backing these lyrics is a great sound. The song opens up, The Hold Steady not wanting to leave their huge sound out of a song.
"we gather our gospels from gossip and bar talk then declare them the truth. we salvage our sermons from message boards and scene reports. we come on to the youth. we try out new testements on the guys sitting next to us in the bars with the bars in their windows. even if you don't get converted tonite you must admit that the band's pretty tight."
Copyright © 2005 Eugene Ward