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Heaven Is Whenever

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iTunes Review

The Hold Steady have become a rock ‘n’ roll institution. They have yet to make the proper commercial inroads, but they’ve been compared to the Replacements with their Minneapolis roots and working man’s poetics. Heaven Is Whenever begins with the Stones-like Exile On Main Street-era country vamp of “The Sweet Part of the City”. Singer Craig Finn is singing more than ever, throwing away the spoken rants of the older material for a chance at intimacy. Keyboardist Franz Nicolay has left the band and in place of his Springsteen-like keyboard flourishes are the twin guitars or Finn and Kubler. Together, they head for the arenas where tunes such as “Soft In the Center”, “Rock Problems”, “Hurricane J” and the seven-minute closing anthem “A Slight Discomfort” would sound perfectly at home. As it stands, they’re one of the louder indie-rock bands hitting the club scene. “The Weekenders”, “The Smidge” (and its cowbell) and “We Can Get Together” are exactly what fans expect: heartland rock with smarts, empathy and the feeling that no one grows old without a good fight.

Customer Reviews

After Stay Positive They Couldn't get much better

Which is really the entirity of the problem. Stay Positive was, in my opinion, that career defining album, Heaven is Whenever pales in comparisson to it whilst being an excellent album in its own right. For instance Finn's lyrics are still soulful tales of lost souls, a great example being "He wasn't just the drummer, he was some one's little brother" on We can get together. Howeever the overall scaling back of the sound form the epic heights reached on stay positive has not caused the band to fare well as Finn's vocals are most definately an aquired taste. This album is not as accessible as their past work but is still a thoroughly enjoyable experience, if you are willing to give it a couple of listens. Let's hope Franz Nicolay comes to his senses and rejoins the band, then they will perhaps come back up to those standards we've come to expect from them.

Not as good as stay positive, but still excelent.

Track by track, the album changes. Starting with the slow welcoming opener to the 7 minute ending epic, he album is excelent. While it can never QUITE live to the standards of their previous album, and is not as... accesable, it is still a definite purchase.

Less cluttered, more spacious

I found the lack of Nicolay's keys a welcome break from previous albums. Stay Positive was fantastic but some songs felt cluttered and the use of keys is now much more thought out and all the better for it in my opinion. Tad Kubler's guitar is more than capable of filling the gaps be it the soaring solos such as on Soft in the Centre (a fantastic chorus of a man dishing out love advice -'you can't get every girl, you'll love the ones you get the best') or driving riffs on the smidge. The closer 'A slight Discomfort' may just be the best thing they've done.

3 great albums in a row and for newcomers I recommend getting them in the order of release - Boys & Girls in America, Stay Positive and then this one. That way you can really get a feel for the development of the band and the way the stories have moved from the old cast of regulars on Boys & Girls to the more personal on this album. Probably wont gain new listeners, as if you didn't buy into their fabulous brand of bar room rock by now you never will, but a really interesting step in the Hold Steady journey and I for one can't wait for the next!!


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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