Friday, August 22, 2008

The Hold Steady's Stay Positive

This is my favorite album of the year so far. A MUST have. the rating system goes by stars with songs (e.g 3/5) and letter grades for the overall album.

1. Constructive Summer: 5/5
Nice song to start the album. The first thing you hear is Tad’s punk sounding guitar and then you know it’s going to be amazing. The nod to Joe Strummer is cool: “Raise a toast to Saint Joe Strummer /I think he might be our only decent teacher.”

2.Sequestered In Memphis: 5/5
Another solid track from HS. It’s obviously the hit and the first single. Just great.

3.One For The Cutters: 3/5
Not the best track. It’s pretty boring. Craig’s lyrics seem to lack something. The end is better then the beginning. Too much Harpsichord.

4. Navy Sheets: 4/5
Another quality track. The keyboards really add to the song. It wouldn’t be good without it.

5. Lord, I’m Discouraged: 5/5
This could be The Drive-By Truckers. Craig’s vocals sound a bit like Patterson Hood. It’s one of his more religious sounding tracks. It’s pretty long as far as most HS songs go. Tad’s solo is amazing. Totally classic rock sounding.

6. Yeah Sapphire: 5/5
This is one of the highlights on the album. Everything works. Guitars, keys, vox, drums and bass. Everything. It all comes together nice. Nice reference to St.Paul.

7. Both Crosses: 2/5
Very eerie sounding. More religious references. Pretty lame lyrics. This song doesn’t work with the rest of the album. In an interview with Craig he said it was a studio experiment that worked. Well, it didn’t. J.Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. plays banjo.

8. Stay Positive: 5/5
The title track is great. A bit like the Hold Steady’s first rap song but not really. The backing vocals are great by Tad and Franz.

9. Magazines: 5/5
Another highlight. Such a great song. Sort of a contemporary of “Yeah Sapphire.” This is the first and only time where you hear just Tad singing.

10. Joke About Jamaica: 3/5
An only ok track. It has some Led Zep references, which is strange and interesting at the same time. You can hear the piano a lot more on this tune. The solo is great as well as the talk box.

11. Slapped Actress: 5/5
Really great ending song. Another 5 minute-er as usual at the end of the album. Classic rock sounding. Really huge sounding. Really great as well.

Best song: Sequestered In Memphis
Personal Favorite: Magazines
Weakest: Both Crosses
Next Single: Magazines or Yeah Sapphire hopefully.

Album grade: A+

Bonus Tracks:

12 A. Ask For Her Adderall: 4/5
Sounds like song that would be on Boys and Girls In America. Really fast paced. Just keeps going.

12 B. Cheyenne Sunrise: 4/5
Really mellow sounding. Maybe it’s a continuation of “Yeah Sapphire.” The lyrics are similar. Sounds like Billy Bragg but the lyrics mention Al Green and Barry White.

12 C. Two Handed Handshake: 4/5
Sounds like a more rockier version of the previous track although it has some horns and female vocals.

Bonus Tracks grade: A-