by Guest Guest
May 9, 2010

If the Boss had written the lyrics for “Born to Run” on a front porch in Tennessee as opposed to the back of a bar in Jersey, he might have come up with a tune like “The Sweet Part of the City.”  On of Heaven is Wherever, Craig Finn and the boys get nostalgic, reminiscing with lyrics about teenage shenanigans while simultaneously issuing a gentle protest against age. With the departure of Franz Nicolay, [piano/keyboard], some fans expected a new vibe from this record. But on the Minnesota-bred, Brooklyn-based five-piece’s fourth album, they have expanded their bar friendly, classic rock feel polishing their sound into something that could one day fit among the classics they draw inspiration from now.

Shortly after the last note of the opening track, the Hold Steady rip into the punk-fused “Soft in the Center” and “The Weekenders.” They keep up the chain smoking, bar hoping pace for the next two songs (one of which includes a shout out to Vancouver) before taking it back down a notch for the calming “We Can Get Together.” Finn’s deadpan delivery and poetic lyrics are prominent in this tune, showcasing a hint of gospel ambiance.

The band jump head first into fist pumping rock with the first single “Hurricane J.” Taking a cue from Andrew WK, the track gets the party started like something off the American Pie 2 soundtrack.  Heaven is Whenever begins to wind down with “Barley Breathing,” a classic East Coast kitchen jam—you can picture the boys swinging their pints around and singing along as Tad Kubler [guitar, keyboard] pounds on the keys. Near the end of the song Finn chants “The kids are in distraction,” a line that seems more truthful the louder you turn up the volume.  “A Slight Discomfort” takes stock of the new hipster nation the band had part in creating and uses the opportunity to scold today’s party morals saying, “Those metro guys who are never funny and afraid to die.”

The Hold Steady are currently riding a creative high—as a band and as friends—and this album reflects that. It’s a hard working album that delivers on all angles, unlike another release from a Brooklyn-based band…cough Siberian Banks cough.

Heaven is Whenever was released on May 4, 2010 on Vagrant Records

out of 5 weasels.

Click PLAY for a 30 second free MP3 of each track or the track name for lyrics in a new tab/window

  1. The Sweet Part Of The City
  2. Soft In The Center
  3. The Weekenders
  4. The Smidge
  5. Rock Problems
  6. We Can Get Together
  7. Hurricane J
  8. Barely Breathing
  9. Our Whole Lives
  10. A Slight Discomfort

Visit The Hold Steady online:  theholdsteady.netmyspace.com/theholdsteady

“The Weekenders” on David Letterman

Never trust a rat. Support the artist and find out for yourself. WestCoastWeasel.com encourages purchasing Heaven is Whenever locally at Red Cat Records in Vancouver, B.C, any independent record store of your choice or online here.

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