Every Song Was Right, All That Wine Was Tight

The Hold Steady’s Stay Positive is all over the internet right now, just begging you to listen to it. It was posted as a stream on the band’s MySpace page last week and was released on iTunes yesterday. I suppose labels have to try their hardest to persuade fans to actually pay for the record these days, rather than downloading a pre-release leak. It also ensures extra hype for an album in a crowded market – the coverage of Stay Positive on the blogs has been pretty immense so far.

Personally, I’m going out of my way not to hear the record before its July 15th release on Rough Trade. There’s something to be said for waiting for the actual, physical album – the excitement of leaving work on the release day and picking it up, and then pouring over the art and lyrics while consuming the actual music. That investment elevates it above just track titles in my iTunes library. Of course I don’t do this with every release, but every so often it’s nice to recreate the excitement preceding a release that I used to get when I first became obsessed with music, before MP3 blogs and BitTorrent.

The first I heard of The Hold Steady was 2007’s Boys and Girls in America. I couldn’t get enough of how Craig Finn’s lyrics were intensified by the immediacy and energy of classic rock riffs and punk passion. It’s a uniquely American sound rooted in bar bands and coupled with literate tales of fallible city dwellers. Finn’s characters appear across the course of their three albums and you experience the rush of the party and the painful, crushing comedown with them. For men well into their thirties, The Hold Steady capture youthful (over)exuberance better than most. Anthems like ‘You Can Make Him Like You’ give me the same kick as when I first heard The Replacements.

Right off the bat the band made their intentions clear with ‘Positive Jam’ the opener from their debut Almost Killed Me:

All the sniffling indie kids. Hold steady. All the clustered up clever kids. Hold steady. I got bored when I didn’t have a band. So I started a band. We’re gonna start it with a positive jam. Hold steady.

MP3: Positive Jam

Finn has stated that the new record is about “the attempt to age gracefully”. I guess you can’t chase the massive nights and killer highs forever. I’ll post my thoughts on Stay Positive sometime after 14th July, way after everyone else most likely.

Rough Trade release a limited etched 7″ of ‘Sequestered in Memphis’ on 7th July. The label will also be releasing a limited edition version of the album with three bonus tracks.

The Hold Steady – Stuck Between Stations

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