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Stay Positive

The Hold Steady

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iTunes Editors' Notes

The Hold Steady aren’t going soft on their fourth album, 2008’s Stay Positive, but they are becoming more musical. Where in the past the band was often satisfied slamming down power chords and tough riffage while “singer” Craig Finn ranted his booze-soaked teen anthems, they now expect Finn to sing a memorable melody while keyboardist Franz Nicolay and guitarist Tad Kubler layer the attack. “Constructive Summer” and the album’s first single “Sequestered in Memphis,” with its unexpected saxophone, make a formidable one-two punch, charged with energy and a barrage of sound that threatens to steamroll right over Finn. The title track lifts the melody from Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” (consciously?) to sell its power of positive thinking message. “Lord, I’m Discouraged” is the band’s first successful power ballad, played as if the wheels were coming off before they even started. The notes fall into place while Finn stumbles down the staircase and Kubler sends out a classic late-‘80s hair-metal styled guitar solo. By “Slapped Actress,” the album’s catchy closer, the band have subtly redefined their sound as AOR for the new millennium.

Customer Reviews

Holding Steady

Fans expecting a new rendering of "Boys and Girls in America" will be surprised by this latest album. Though the band has kept their engrossing lyrics and bar band feel, Stay Positive features a more wide-ranging sound. The band has made greater use of pianos, syths, and coruses. Nonethelless, the album is definitely worth a look for die-hard fans or the uninitiated. However, it is very disappointing that the bonus tracks available on the hard-copy CD are not available to those using ITunes.

top drawer

It's mostly listening to the Hold Steady when I find myself thinking "Man, I didn't think music could get this good."

WOOT WOOT

I LOVE IT!!!!!!! ALL OF IT!!!!!!

Biography

Formed: 2000 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Resisting the musical trends in New York City, vocalist/guitarist Craig Finn (ex-Lifter Puller) formed the Hold Steady after moving from Minneapolis in 2000. Wanting to capture the sound of bands such as the Replacements and the Grifters, he recruited guitarist Tad Kubler (also ex-Lifter Puller), drummer Judd Counsell, and bassist Galen Polivka. Recording mostly live, the band released its debut, Almost Killed Me, on Frenchkiss Records in March 2004. Dave Gardener (Rocket from the Crypt, Drive Like...
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