Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Hold Steady - Heaven Is Whenever

It's an interesting time to be a fan of The Hold Steady. Heaven Is Whenever is the first in some time not to feature the keyboard stylings of Mr. Franz Nicolay and was rumored to be a simpler, more guitar-driven affair. In the days before the record came out, I had more than a couple interactions with the HS massive where the general consensus was that our heroes had jumped the shark. I felt kinda the same way after hearing the first singles off the record, but still bought tickets for both of their home town shows last month and had a ball.

Heaven Is Whenever leaked soon after, and I wasn't really into it all. It was kind of a bummer, frankly, but after a week of bike rides, the songs started hooking me in. The bridge of Hurricane J was the first thing that grabbed me, followed soon after by the icy riff that drives The Weekenders. After a couple weeks, I'm pleased to say that I'm now pretty into Heaven Is Whenever. The boys have been making the late night rounds, switching up the song each time, and all of them seem to translate pretty well. The new guys seem pretty decent, but seem to be chosen for their lack of overall personality to the point of being extraneous.

The core four are in fine form here. Tad definitely seems poised to take the Rick Nielsen torch, both in rock riffage and sheer volume (literally and figuratively) of Gibsons owned. Craig still brings much to the table lyrically. That's a pretty big understatement, but rather than dance too much about architecture, know that Husker Du are referenced, as are Heavenly and the sheer pleasure of staying indoors with significant others and listening to records. These are truisms that warrant your embracing their philosophy and buying Heaven Is Whenever. I can state whole-heartedly that I miss song-driven makeout sessions. Know that JS-NYC will go the distance to bring this back as courtship material. Do your part and buy Heaven Is Whenever here from you friends at Vagrant.


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