The Hold Steady
Boys and Girls in America

Vagrant
2006
B
Reviewed by: Andrew Gaerig
Reviewed on: 2006-10-05



Posted 10/05/2006 - 07:32:34 AM by meatbreak:
 I was pretty disappointed with this the first couple of times I heard it and to be honest, it's not growing on me. The increase in production qualities has glossed over all of that scummy burliness that made The 'Steady (yeah, I think I can do that) such an entity to get involved in. There's definately no Little Hoodrat Friend on here and that's one of the greatest story-songs ever for me, from one of the best narrative albums I've heard. This album is just far too clean and shiny with not enough below the belt put-downs and snidy asides. The vocals are delivered too close to rock standard singing and I miss the phrasing and tones from the previous releases. I'm still going to give it a chance, after all, if Craig can keep give Holly a multitude of reprives, then I'll give him a few too.
 
Posted 10/05/2006 - 08:16:18 AM by KlausFraktal:
 Totally agree with this, so disappointing.
 
Posted 10/05/2006 - 08:25:43 AM by raskolnikov:
 It's easy to be disappointed with this record if you actually thought this band was any good. They are a stillborn atrocity of uninspired, retread music paired with unbearably arch and self-satisfied lyricism. Boring in the extreme, their most noticeable characteristic is how quickly sophisticated listeners will turn away from them and listen to something else. Music for teenagers and young adults who are too lazy to read books.
 
Posted 10/05/2006 - 11:57:23 AM by mvdu76:
 This time I have to agree with Stylus over the users. Sometimes unadorned music is the best. An A IMO.
 
Posted 10/05/2006 - 12:03:43 PM by meatbreak:
 But they gave it a B. And it is adorned, that's the whole point. Loads of overdubs,piano's and other musical ephemera taking away from the street-level grit and dirt of the first two albums and demos. Raskolnikov, I think you're way out on this one. Your last sentence should be the tag line for all music and music mags/websites I think.
 
Posted 10/05/2006 - 12:12:19 PM by KlausFraktal:
 raskolnikov, if you mean 'sophisticated' in the vapid, bourgeois sense that you prescribe to, then I say 'right on' that laughably hypocritical drivel you just vomited onto my monitor.
 
Posted 10/05/2006 - 03:21:55 PM by syurix:
 I'm hesitant to say that this is THS's best record, but I do feel like it's their most concise bid to make a classic. Finn's main artistic growth on this record comes in that he's developed an editorial sense in the verses. The hyperactive ramble that crams 6 puns, 2 perscription drugs, and a town in Massachucettes into one verse seems curbed here and, while I feel thibk that hyperactive ramble is one of the 5 best things to hit music in the past decade, seeing Finn's vocabulary of turns of phrase and his ability to kill with tiny details dispensed with more restraint and precision is a somewhat ballsy and often more affecting thing than he's getting credit for. That said, I'm glad that Separation Sunday was the record that got me into them, it may very well (and this is assuming that "Boys and Girls..." is the tip of their pop-aspiration-iceberg.)end up being the true classic of the Craig Finn cannon or at least something that fans will fight over ten years from now. "Boys and Girls" is sweetend up, but I don't think it's watered down.
 
Posted 10/05/2006 - 03:46:19 PM by mvdu76:
 A B is a good grade. Anyway, I think it has the perfect amount of intrumentation, period. Not overproduced.
 
Posted 10/05/2006 - 03:51:57 PM by jhitting:
 If THS weren't good we wouldn't feel the need to defend them. I like this record a lot and I think it follows the first two records nicely. I recommend THS to all my friends who don't listen to music made after GNR, if that means much of anything.
 
Posted 10/05/2006 - 03:52:59 PM by grandbanks:
 Despite the B rating, which a casual viewer will take to mean that this is an above average record, I am glad that the review itself neglected to give the free pass that this band has received in the past. If people keep it up The Decembrists and "Steady" or whatever will keep making records, and I will have to keep hearing about this tepid bullshit. My fault for being a discriminating music fan I guess. Don't get mad at Raskolnikov for calling out a band for basically, I guess it turns out, calling their own sad shot. Making music as reaction to a trend, if that particular slant of this review is true, is just stupid and should exclude said band from even getting reviewed. Why would a band admit to being pointless? Finn should have just gone to a grad school lit program (which is assuredly who a large portion of his fans are) and saved us the trouble. Then he could write criticism about criticism of criticism instead of feed into every-indie-dude's fascination with working-class street-grit whatnot. What, indeed, is unique about channeling a genre that never went away? There is a bar band playing in almost any town in the world at this point that has as much to offer as this band does, just without the winking and the need to "really mean it."
 
Posted 10/07/2006 - 10:04:24 PM by barbarian:
 Pass. I think this band is about as bad the decemberists.
 
Posted 10/07/2006 - 10:07:07 PM by barbarian:
 drew carrey + colin meloy = craig finn. lol, drew carrey isn't a lame hipster, but he still wears the same glasses as these dudes!!
 
Posted 10/09/2006 - 02:32:09 PM by grandbanks:
 "I recommend THS to all my friends who don't listen to music made after GNR, if that means much of anything." Pretty much says it all. As direct a statement as any as to why this band is so fucking annoying. Why are people so starved for rock of this stripe? Why hit the fake nostalgia button when you can just go right to the source? I don't notice any clever adjustments to the model, just a blanket "this is the music we grew up with" entitlement leading down a now three-album long dead-end.
 
Posted 10/09/2006 - 11:10:08 PM by Utica5:
 think this band throws the indie flock for a serious loop, because THS' negative reaction to the whole bullshit/dance/disco thing really resonates. it sucked, after all, and it was pretty easy to tell that critics were fanning the flames of indie-dance, not listeners. but here's what THS got wrong: they seem to think that you either have to be "innovative" (and follow the one path that pitchfork has deemed so), or be conservative (and play some good ol fucking rock music). but bad innovation should be countered with good innovation, not half-assed rock daddy-worship. and this review seems to be coming around to the fact that this band has left themselves no room for evolution, because they are explicitly anti-evolution. which, of course, is dumb.
 
Posted 10/15/2006 - 05:10:10 PM by barbarian:
 No self-respecting GNR fan I've ever known is gonna give one half of a tweedler about this band. Could you imagine Axl in the same room as Finn? I can, and Finn's glasses are shattered and his neck strangled by Axl's bloody hands.
 
Posted 10/16/2006 - 02:58:27 PM by raskolnikov:
 Is there such thing as a "self-respecting" Guns and Roses fan? That band snacks on shit like cookies. And Barbarian, you should know that the fat hair-plugged pissant that calls itself Axl Rose would probably get his ass whipped by Bjork in a fight. The only fights Axl Rose wins are lawsuits against his former bandmates. The sooner he dies, the better the world will be.
 
Posted 10/17/2006 - 12:04:20 PM by jhitting:
 You gotta respect Axl! Anyone who doesn't like GNR is uptight and no fun. I mean, sure, some of their songs suck, but the singles are legit. And Axl is a pretty funny character to follow. I'm not sure why so many indie kids think it's hip to bash GNR, or why it's uncool to make rock n roll that isn't evolved and istead just has fun...this record is fun as shit and so are the other HS records. You guys need to all remove the sticks from your asses and just relax. I recommend buying looser fitting jeans that don't cut off the blood supply to your dicks.
 
Posted 10/17/2006 - 04:13:52 PM by raskolnikov:
 People don't think it's hip to bash Guns and Roses. They bash them because they are a shitty, shitty band. Not only that, but their dated, over-publicized shtick has aged about as well as a week-old dead cow in an open sewer. Axl Rose is a loser, there are few people active in music today that wouldn't kick his pathetic ass in a fight. He might be able to eke out a victory against Vic Chesnutt, but then, he's in a wheelchair.....
 
Posted 10/17/2006 - 05:14:15 PM by grandbanks:
 Jhitting, you just posted about the stupidest thing on this site, and that is saying something. Kudos! You got just about everything being said in this thread wrong. A) Most of the GNR related conversations I hear consist of stupid indie kids claiming that "GNR rules," not that they suck. The fucking apologists for this band WAY outnumber the critics. B) Nobody ever claimed to dislike "fun" music here, nor music that doesn't take itself too seriously. The problem is that critics are acting like The Hold Steady is good fun AND is art, due to the quality of the lyrics etc., to which myself and many others state: bullshit. Boring and, as Raskolnikov said, "unbearably arch and self-satisfied." Do I have to make a list of the stupid shit that I dork out to to convince you I can listen to "fun" music? Why bother. It's a boring conversation. Most people inexplicably like some stupid shit, whatever floats your boat. It's the smugness of the idea that anyone who doesn't like this shit is just uptight that is so odious. I would like to think that every time I played a Stooges record a fucking GNR apologist died, but not really, mostly I am a nice guy and just stopped hanging out with idiots who would put on a crappy record to convince themselves that they are "having fun." In a way you embody everything wrong with this band, and make the detractors' point for them. What is most laughable about your statement, which follows with all of the GNR love, is that you seem to imagine that all us dissenters are tight-jean wearing hipster music snobs. Well, it is a curse being a discriminating music fan, but most of the people I know who love GNR and The Hold Steady are tight-jean wearing, pseudo-intellectual, scenester fuckwads with major chips on their shoulders that use their fandom as a weapon, not the other way around. To imply that the Hold Steady is ballsy, as I think your last comment was meant to do, is absurd, but hey, if it makes you feel better about yourself then great. Also, people who put things up their ass tend to be less uptight, in general, than those who don't. An idea as stale as this band.
 
Posted 10/18/2006 - 02:02:26 PM by browngirl5566:
 an unbearable album from a terrible band
 
Posted 11/30/2006 - 01:36:54 AM by septopus:
 A review that gets two of the song titles wrong has no credibility, in my opinion. It's "Stuck Between Stations" and "Hot Soft Light." Not that hard to look at the back of the CD.
 
Posted 07/31/2007 - 05:42:28 AM by richardob:
 This record will stand or fall on whether people find its lyrics impressive and interesting, or 'unbearably arch and self-satisfied'. For me the G'n'R debate is a complete tangent. Of course there are bar bands all over the world, and I don't think anyone would be stupid enough to listen to this one out of all the many, many examples if they were just a cock-rock-revival. The main attraction, surely, for indie kids is the lyrics, and as with any writing they're a matter of personal response. By subjective standards, Craig Finn is one of my favourite lyricists. Objectively, I think the case is fairly easy to make that he uses language and imagery in a powerful, talented way. You may not personally admire his writing style or be affected by it yourself, but it is hard to disparage him as fundamentally a bad writer, unless you offer examples as to what it is about his use of language that you find particularly smug or uninspiring. No one is going to win anyone else over on this: raskolnikov isn't going to suddenly decide Finn is neither arch nor self-satisfied, and jhitting doesn't look likely to realise the apparent error of his ways and start hating on Finn's writing. More than anything lyrics are a matter of your own emotional/intellectual response, and therefore this argument is only going to go round in circles.