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The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams

April 6, 2014

HS TD

The Hold Steady’s second album Separation Sunday blew my mind when I first heard it in 2005.  It was like punk rock Springsteen.  The fact that the lead singer was from the Twin Cities and dropped all kinds of local references certainly added to the charm.

However when their third album Boys and Girls in America blew up and put the band on the map I was ho-hum – it just did not seem as good as Separation Sunday.  Honestly this was not me being a music snob and resenting having to share my indie darlings with the rest of the world – that third album, Boys and Girls in America,  just did not hit me in the gut like Separation Sunday.  My theory at the time was that if the first time you heard The Hold Steady was via Boys and Girls in America you would be blown away just like I was with Separation Sunday.   For me Girls in America was just more of the same.  I kept buying each new album as they came out over the years, but none hit me like Separation Sunday.  Until now – Teeth Dreams is  great rock and roll.

I really liked Craig Finn’s solo Clear Heart Full Eyes (2012) and so I had high hopes that a band hiatus and that solo album would rejuvenate The Hold Steady.  It sure did – Teeth Dreams sounds like The Hold Steady’s arena rock album – some how it works – it does not sound at all like a sell out – just true rock and roll craftsmen tossing down their work  – and making it sound effortless.  It kind of reminds me of when Soul Asylum hit a grand slam with Grave Dancers Union – the perfection of everything that came before it – blossoming into a hit.

Now I doubt anything on Teeth Dreams will be hit like “Runaway Train” – the marketplace is not there for a straight ahead rock band, but I can dream.  This is like running into a buddy who you remember as being kind of soft and flabby and now he looks totally fit and jacked.  This album is so muscular.  I am sure some fans will resent how polished and mainstream this album sounds, but not me – it sound perfect.  Congratulations boys – you won me back!  It’s only rock and roll (but I like it).

 

 

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