[Originally published on ManifestDisc.com, July 2008.]
The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
In a perfect world, The Hold Steady would have the mass-generational appeal of their musical forbears—Bruce Springsteen, Thin Lizzy—rather than a tiny niche audience of music critics and aging college-rock fans. Granted, Craig Finn is the definition of “workmanlike vocalist,” but his lyrical pen remains knife-sharp, crafting choruses (“I was a skeptic at first but these miracles work”) that explode like rallying cries. Behind him, Stay Positive finds the Steady’s mix of power chords and driving piano polished to a radio-friendly sheen, augmented with horns, harpsichord, and (most bizarrely) Frampton-worthy talk-box. That it works at all is a testament to the band’s ability to craft anthems (“Slapped Actress,” “Constructive Summer”) out of the mundane lives of street kids and petty criminals. Giddy on its own drunken mythology, Stay Positive has the multi-layered depth of the best rock classics—and still sounds fantastic pouring out of your car speakers.
See the original review here... and order it through Manifest!
So here's your crash course in The Hold Steady: Above is my first exposure to the band, AKA The Late Show With David Letterman performance of "Stuck Between Stations" from Boys & Girls In America.
Next is "Two Handed Handshake," one of three bonus tracks from the Stay Positive CD. One of the album's finest songs... and it's relegated to a hidden track.
And finally, The Hold Steady do Dylan! This is their cover of "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window," from the impeccable soundtrack to I'm Not There.