Star 18 – The Hold Steady

“I know we made plans to meet in Spokane, but the way I make plans, you gotta take it with a grain of salt”

The Steady’s new way of doing things is a fantastic real time sharing of something similar to Less Than Jake’s remoulding of the old school Album/Tour/Album model we saw from them last year.

Both bands have gone from hard touring each album like every other band to a group of ‘older dudes’, who are doin’ other things just as often as they’re being ‘that guy from that band’.

In The Hold Steady’s case they plot a small residency of shows in a cool part of a city (so far Brooklyn, Camden, St. Paul and Toronto) and around the same time they release a digital Double A single to accompany those shows. Both songs on all the releases so far have been steeped in THS lore, they’ve featured Franz back at the piano (he didn’t play on the bands last two studio albums) and they’ve had solo’s, riffs and lyrics to die for.

Star 18 might be the best of the eight new songs so far. It’s dripping with the cool. It’s playful and it’s funny.

“Sorry I’m late, I got caught in a mosh with this dude that said he used to play with Peter Tosh, but he never brought it up again once I said, ‘Man, I don’t believe you’ & I looked over this great expanse & I saw some kid pissin’ on his parachute pants & in one split second I figured out that he was one of your crew”

As the flip of The Stove And The Toaster it’s clear Finn is lyrically moving on from chronicling the kids at the party and focusing more on the shady types who hang out in the background bringing in the illicit elements of the scene.

On The A-Side Tad’s guitar work has some huge echo effects and 70’s AOR affectation akin to The War On Drugs. It gets punkier and bouncier on Star 18 but the solos still sound vintage in a brilliant brilliant way.

“Hold Steady at the Comfort Inn, Mick Jagger’s at the Mandarin, Once you get good, you can get it wherever you are”

This bouncy and dynamic companion piece to The Breeders Wait In The Car could be about the same event from a different perspective in some Punk Rock Musical Court Room Drama (I’d watch the hell out of ‘That’ show if it existed) seems to throw some characters under the bus and clam up about other aspects of the party scene.

Just the same way The President and The Street Sweepers drink the same Coca-Cola, The Stones and The Scene Bands are relying on the same network for their party favours. If Finn made a movie or wrote a novel I’d be all over it, and yet I’m most pleased we get this reportage from the front line in song format.

Now that we get two new tracks every few months with uniform artwork and a bunch of unique shows it feels more vital than it has in years.

Happy New Year!

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