Critical Writings

Articles and Reviews: MUSIC

Boys and Girls in America by The Hold Steady (Vagrant)


The resurgence of blue collar America continues apace, with this collection of bone-crunching rockers courtesy of Brooklyn-based, Minneapolis-reared The Hold Steady, a band who sound like they’re actually having fun while playing. Heavily indebted to early Springsteen, partly because the use of Franz Nicolay’s keyboards recalls Roy Brittan’s work with the E Street Band, there are also echoes of fellow-Minneapolitans Husker Du and The Replacements, along with Exile-era Stones and even, gasp – AD/DC, anyone? But it’s singer Craig Finn’s literate, loquacious lyrics which put one most in mind of The Boss. Having invented three tearaway teenage characters, Charlemange, Gideon and Holly, there are lots of references to taking drugs, ‘massive highs’ and ‘crushing lows’. The frankly hilarious ‘Chillout Tent’ tells of a guy and girl, strangers when they meet, coming around in the first aid tent at a rock festival and getting it on with each other, while the more reflective ‘Citrus’ hints at a gentler side. The album title, quoted in opener ‘Stuck Between Stations’, is taken from a line uttered by Sal Paradise in Kerouac’s On The Road, ‘Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together’, the song continuing by referencing the greatest American poet of his troubled generation, John Berryman, and his suicide in the band’s hometown.

If you missed The Hold Steady’s storming show in Temple Bar Music Centre at the end of February, kick yourself hard, and then buy this.


First published in Magill, March 2007

 

Back

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home
Biography
Fiction
Critical Writings
Travel Writings
Awards