|Today’s album is a debut effort released in 2004.The Hold Steady – Almost Killed Me
Listen to it here: http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/The+Hold+Steady+Almost+Killed+Me/67632170
Read about the group here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hold_Steady#Discography
Fun Facts: Growing up in Minneapolis, Hüsker Dü was a huge band. I always thought Grant Hart was the better songwriter, and his lyrics were very specific. Bob Mould kind of favored vague lyrics. But as far as detail-oriented songwriters, more contemporary… certainly Bruce Springsteen, Jim Carroll, John Darnielle from The Mountain Goats. A lot of hip-hop really inspires me. My absolute favorite stuff is Brother Ali from Rhymesayers. Atmosphere, obviously. Things like Aesop Rock, Sage Francis, Murs, all those guys. Even Jay-Z. Hip-hop is so much about lyrics, and as a lyricist it’s hard not to be inspired by it.
|The Hold Steady – Almost Killed MePreconceptions: I think that Paul has tossed up a couple of songs from this group during singles day, but I cannot remember what the genre is. Man I hope it’s upbeat.
Mood: I am moodless.
After Listening: The lead singer sounds like Coyote Shivers. I totally dig the spoken word, playground taunting tone as the words are spat out.
Favorite/Least Favorite track/tracks: I liked all of them. Unfortunately, none of them were memorable enough to pull out a specific title. That doesn’t mean they were bad, it just means that the sequence of the album was set up to make it sound like one enormous song.
Overall (1-5 stars): 4
|Preconceived Notions: I confuse these guys a lot with “My Morning Jacket”, I’m not sure why maybe the whole 00’s indie rock flirtations with the main stream complex. In any case I don’t know enough about them to have a “steady” opinion.After Listening: This dude’s voice really rubs me the wrong way – he’s basically just talking and not in any unique/or story telling way – it’s not Waits. More like some idiot yapping in your ear at a concert when he knows full well you can’t really hear him completely, and yet he just keeps going and going. Let’s be honest here, this is someone doing a terrible Springsteen impression. Lyrically he has some moments that make you think maybe they are a little competent…but then he goes and rhymes “heady” with “heavy” or some other such simple crap device that your eyes nearly roll out of your head. To top it off, many of the songs use simple repetition of lyrics – with zero exposition to make them sound important-they’re not. Musically, any time an instrument is brought to prominence it’s wasted – for example the guitar solo in “Most People are Dj’s” is a wandering mess that sounds like the solo from Freebird was given even more leeway to suck. I suppose on a positive note, the music itself is never really brought to bear on this record, and mostly in its completely interchangeable role you won’t find it especially annoying – but then again it’s not the least bit compelling either.
Overall: 1.32 This doesn’t give off all the typical warning signs of a putrid album at 1st glance. And perhaps in isolated moments one could identify and not be repulsed by the songs here. You’re not going to hear the 1st few notes and think anything is really wrong…but over time, as a whole when the record builds you’ll realize you’re in the wilderness without a way home- a terribly bland wilderness whose static garbage is broken only occasionally by the whining of a jackass. . Musically and vocally this a wandering mess. Make no mistake though, it’s the voice that will leave a mark on you. The album reeks of a thinly veiled tribute to a Born to Run, only with zero redeeming musical accompaniment and that vague lyricism that seems to pass for thoughts like Jack Handy’s finer SNL moments.
|The Hold Steady – Almost Killed MePreconceptions: None. I may have heard the name before, but I am probably thinking of the “Hold Fast” ribbon on my wife’s tattoo.
After Listening: Well now, it’s the Subpop Burroughs http://grooveshark.com/#!/s/Words+Of+Advice+For+Young+People/4lldE6?src=5 only more Lou Reed meets Springsteen and less septuagenarian smack head .
Steady: Swish, Certain Songs, Hostile Mass (which is the next exit from North Attleboro)
Overall: I vacillated from love to hate and back several times on the speaky-singy vocalist, but eventually I was won over by lines like these:
The hipster caravan of characters weave in and out of these songs about foolish excess of the rock n roll underground. Or something. Anyway, they could be Warhol hangers-on cut from an unreleased longer version of Walk on the Wild Side. I am not sure that’s a brilliant idea, or even a good one, but I was entertained.
Extra Credit: For more sleazy indie talkysingy check out Louis XIV -The Best Little Secrets Are Kept http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Best+Secrets+Are+Kept/68633449