Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Hold Steady - A Positive Rage, Part One: The CD

For the uninitiated, or those that don't like The Hold Steady (at JS-NYC HQ, we call those people deaf), A Positive Rage is the new live CD slash DVD tour documentary from the boys from Brooklyn. In the interest of yammering on about The Hold Steady as much as possible, I'm going to separate the two discs into two reviews. Let's make love to our ears first, shall we?

This recording comes from a single show taped on Halloween Night in 2007 at The Metro, in lovely Chicago, IL. It's a great room, and by the sounds of things, it was a pretty good show. It's mixed by John Agnello, but I assume that it's pretty much warts and all. Not that this is The Shit Hits The Fans. The boys are often tight as fuck and one of Craig's favorite records is Liveage, a record that I'm pretty sure adhered to that aesthetic. Granted it was probably shallow SST pockets that facilitated the former, but The Hold Steady are every bit as tight as Hermosa Beach's finest, making A Positive Rage an economical choice for all parties involved. Truth be told, many of the first copies were defective, including mine. It was a minor inconvenience, save for our inability to garner the unreleased tracks that were theoretically encoded therein. I'll keep you posted on the replacement process, though I'm pretty salty about not being able to hear them.

That duly bitched about, here's the tracklisting for A Positive Rage:
  1. Intro
  2. Stuck Between Stations
  3. The Swish
  4. Chips Ahoy!
  5. Massive Nights
  6. Ask Her For Adderall
  7. Barfruit Blues
  8. Same Kooks
  9. You Gotta Dance (With Who You Came With)
  10. Lord, I’m Discouraged
  11. You Can Make Him Like You
  12. Your Little Hoodrat Friend
  13. Southtown Girls
  14. Citrus
  15. First Night
  16. Girls Like Status
  17. Killer Parties
So, it's a pretty good set. A Positive Rage has got most of the best parts of the Vagrant era, with a dip into some of their tastier b-sides to keep things interesting. In that vein, props are due for putting You Gotta Dance in the set. Personally, I would have lost Citrus for Modesto, but that's just me and I don't recall their asking my opinion, as shocking as that might seem. All in all, I'd give the show a seven on a ten scale. I'm sure it would score higher if I had been there and getting my 'that guy' on, but that's my call and I'm sticking to it. For the newcomers, I'll point again that a Hold Steady seven is about a fifteen for the average band. Almost twenty Hold Steady shows in the last couple years has shown me that the bar has been raised considerably for rock shows in this millenium. There is a short list of bands around today that can hold their own against them and that number grows smaller with every release.

If you had the choice between spending your hard-earned dollar on seeing The Hold Steady live or buying A Positive Rage, I'd say see the guys live. After that, you'll probably end up buying this anyway. Here's a link, if you're feeling pre-emptive and all. 


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