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The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America (Cover Artwork)

The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady: Boys and Girls in AmericaBoys and Girls in America (2006)
Vagrant Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: danperroneDan Perrone
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Forget Dave Matthews Band and Phish -- if there's a band out there that should be the apple of every college student's eye, it's the Hold Steady. If there was a way to package a Friday night with your best friends at the local bar and translate it into 40 minutes of music, it would be titled Boys an.
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Forget Dave Matthews Band and Phish -- if there's a band out there that should be the apple of every college student's eye, it's the Hold Steady. If there was a way to package a Friday night with your best friends at the local bar and translate it into 40 minutes of music, it would be titled Boys and Girls in America. The most fun album of the year deserves your attention right this instant.

Their first on Vagrant Records, Boys and Girls picks up where the critically acclaimed Separation Sunday left off, only with a tightened approach. Craig Finn's trademark vocals are more sung than talked this time around, which could turn off some fans of the album's predecessor, but in fact complement the more straightforward nature of the songs themselves impeccably. There's a fair amount of early Springsteen to be found as well: the style of the vocals, the driving piano and organ (check the solo in "Same Kooks!"), and the storytelling all compare well to those of Bruce's. One lyrical standout takes place in the opener, "Stuck Between Stations," a narrative of poet John Berryman and his demise through suicide: "There was that night where we thought John Berryman could fly / but he didn't / so he died / She said 'You're pretty good with words / but words don't save your life' / and they didn't / so he died." It's creative (and occasionally hysterical) passages like these that give the album a truly refreshing feel.

However, all of this pales in comparison to how much of a rollicking good time Boys and Girls is. The characters detailed in the lyrics are always throwing a few back in an assortment of locations, and the music of the self-proclaimed "bar rock band" oozes charisma and energy, even when the group gets softer on tracks like "First Night," "Citrus." There's some country elements (the fantastic closer "Southtown Girls"), but most stick to the tried-and-true formula of no-frills rock and roll. A few gigantic choruses are showcased in "Massive Nights" and "Chips Ahoy!," and the punk rock feel to "You Can Make Him Like You" is extremely well-executed. It's a rare occurrence when every single song on an album is fantastic, but it's accomplished full circle on Boys and Girls.

To put things in perspective, I first listened to this album at ten o'clock at night and did not listen to anything else until midnight the following night. I fell asleep to it, woke up to it, rocked with it on the way to class, worked out to it, and then my roommate put on It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, resulting in a total of something around ten or eleven play-throughs -- straight. Albums like this one make you realize how lacking music is in the "fun" department. At a time when bands are consumed by concept albums and self-importance, the Hold Steady is a breath of fresh air and a pint of Guinness.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldAgainst Me! - As The Eternal CowboyJawbreaker - Dear YouAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Hold Steady - Separation SundayThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundThe Clash - London Calling

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
LittleSteven (January 30, 2009)

PURE ROCK!!!

Sigismund (December 7, 2007)

Great album, great band - highly recommended.

If you're one of those "PUNK RAWK 4 LYFE!!!" kids, you'll likely hate this album and the Hold Steady in general. However, if you dig the passionate, boozy romanticism of the Replacements, latter-day HŁsker DŁ, Thin Lizzy, or early Springsteen, you'll find a lot to love about both this album and the Hold Steady. Still, Craig Finn's speak-sing vocal style turns a lot of folks off, even if Boys and Girls in America features his "most sung" vocals yet, if that makes any sense.

Oh, and don't be discouraged by the reviewer's somewhat confusing comparison to the Dave Matthews Band and Phish - the Hold Steady are neither a MOR pop/rock band nor an eccentric jam band.

Holy_Balls (August 13, 2007)

Boo!

Grub (April 21, 2007)

My Friend compared this to Guttermouth and I laughed at him...
Solid Album Though

GlassPipeMurder (December 20, 2006)

It's nostalgia that makes this album. It's like reliving a lifetime in this album, from the first kiss, to the evangelicals who cry when they tell you about Jesus, to the first time you experimented with drugs. This album is great, but it'll be interesting to see where The Hold Steady goes from here.

Anonymous (December 16, 2006)

I've listened to this album a bunch of times.

And I don't dislike it. It's alrigtht. But I just don't understand how people would listen to it and run out and tell a bunch of people about it. People are going apeshit for this album. And I just don't get it. It's a kind of fun background bar band. The lyrics have something to them, sure. But just in general, it's not something I'm going to really revisit.

As of now I think that Brand New has made the album of the year, but I've also really enjoyed this year's offerings from The Lawrence Arms and The Bronx, as well as finding a lot to like with Bomb the Music Industry, The Falcon, Dead to Me, My Chemical Romance, and The Loved Ones.

fritobandito (December 14, 2006)

absolutely fantastic album.

captaincrunch (October 17, 2006)

Holy crap this is really good.

Anonymous (October 16, 2006)

Such a good album. The lyrics are unbeatable.

Anonymous (October 15, 2006)

i love separation sunday and almost killed me, by far two of my favorite cds.

this one just isn't very good.

Not-To-Regret (October 14, 2006)

The warbled pennywise singer is back!

Godfather (October 14, 2006)

score is for phish and dave mathews band

m-oo (October 14, 2006)

Fuck! I downloaded their older album like a tard!

Moo

Anonymous (October 14, 2006)

Worse album art ever???

GlassPipeMurder (October 14, 2006)

is this punk? (i seriously don't know, what do these guys sound like?)

greg0rb (October 13, 2006)

Love this album. I prefer it to Separation Sunday and like the singing over the talking... I need melody not just riffage. All the extra keys kick ass too. Massive Nights is my favorite, but they're all good. This will almost definitly make my list this year, but it's gonna be a tough one! Nice review, by the way.
-Greg

stuttermispronounce (October 13, 2006)

Itís a rare occurrence when every single song on an album is fantastic, but itís accomplished full circle on Boys and Girls.

what? you're mixing cliches.

leifkills (October 13, 2006)

This album kicks ass. Plain and simple.

Anonymous (October 13, 2006)

i'm surprised a few people have said they liked the first LP more than this and separation sunday. the first one is good, but they were definitely still figuring their sound out on it. its inconsistent and i usually lose interest around the halfway mark.

also its hilarious seeing people trash this band and then talk about how great norma jean is. the comments on this site never fail to amaze me with stupidity. OMG ITS TOO COLLEGE 4 ME. PUNK RAWK 4 LYFE!

Anonymous (October 13, 2006)

i loved lifter puller.
and i loved "..almost killed me"

"separation sunday" was decent.

this one is like.. hold steady warmed over.
it's a good record, but - only in comparison to the steaming pile of shit that's out there calling itself music.

it's a 3 out of 5 for me.

branden (October 13, 2006)

this album rules

automatic333 (October 13, 2006)

Top 5 album of the year for sure

DarrenMcLeod (October 13, 2006)

Great album, one of my favorites of the year. Citrus is the best acoustic track I've heard this year.

Anonymous (October 13, 2006)

this shit is so boring. Watch - this along with 10 other indie/alt. rock bands will make top 20 albums of the year for punknews.org

so lame

disko (October 13, 2006)

I think it actually sounds worse than their previous records. Something about the mix just isn't right to me.

Lifter Puller and the first Hold Steady album were much better than this.

ticklish (October 13, 2006)

This and the new Maritime are tied for my album of the year.

kenjamin (October 13, 2006)

gladimnotemo is the new BSD but fails to add any insight into punk history.

Anonymous (October 13, 2006)

The singer who looks like he's having seizures up on stage, the Hold Steady everybody.

Anonymous (October 13, 2006)

Album of the year.

gladimnotemo (October 13, 2006)

Upon further listening, this is Billy Joel-esque shit for college "indie" kids. Glad to see it reviewed.

danperrone (October 13, 2006)

lol you guys just hate college and fun

Anonymous (October 13, 2006)

This is such a good cd!

burningfeeetman (October 13, 2006)

Holy crap, I just went to their myspace.

They fucking suck. Those are some of the worst vocals I have ever heard.

tylerdurden8136 (October 13, 2006)

I'm a huge fan of their two earlier records, and although this one is taking awhile, it's slowly growing on me.

brodave_17 (October 13, 2006)

the album cover alone is enough to keep me away

ThrowUpTheMetal (October 13, 2006)

Amazing record, mediocre at best review

wyefa (October 13, 2006)

Lol. This album is HORRIBLE. I can't believe you guys asked this retard to review Norma Jean Redeemer.

Redeemer owns this shitty album.

RyanRockwell (October 13, 2006)

My favorite album of the ar so far!

danhatesyou (October 13, 2006)

Fantastic album. Definitely giving Happy Hollow a run for it's money as far as album of the year goes.

joeg (October 13, 2006)

"Forget Dave Matthews Band and Phish -- if thereís a band out there that should be the apple of every college studentís eye, itís the Hold Steady."

i think that's the perfect intro for their band bio. great bar rock band.....i think i'll pass.

slymer (October 13, 2006)

So do these guys sound anything like Dave Matthews Band and Phish? If so, I'm not interested. I see you also compare them to Springsteen which isn't a bad thing.

gladimnotemo (October 13, 2006)

"Forget Dave Matthews Band and Phish -- if thereís a band out there that should be the apple of every college studentís eye, itís the Hold Steady."

Reason enough to break any copies you find.

elliot (October 13, 2006)

as this page was loading, and the score was coming up, i was like "that looks like it's gonna be 4 and a half. it better not be 4 and a half. GODDAMMIT."

i've said it before and i'll say it again: the hold steady is one of the WORST fucking bands i've ever heard and it blows my mind that they are getting all this press for being pure shit. you people are insane.

Anonymous (October 13, 2006)

dan perrone sucks

danperrone (October 13, 2006)

shit my bad with the flub in typing in the first paragraph

but incomprehensible? come on dudes

maverick (October 13, 2006)

Album of the year. It even knocked Moneen out of the No. 1 spot. It loses a half-star only for Elizabeth Elmore's grating female vocals in "Chillout Tent." The only flaw on the record.

-Scott

Dante3000 (October 13, 2006)

So my friend was like, "You ever hear of The Hold Steady?"
And I said, "How about you hold steady on this?"
Oh, how we laughed. You had to be there.
-Dante

recordtheory (October 13, 2006)

I still haven't picked this one up, but I love the first 2.

Anonymous (October 13, 2006)

definitely album of the year
every song is perfect
the last bit of your review doesnt make much sense though, because this IS a concept record. just like the last one, though this one doesnt have a linear storyline to it. all the songs are tied together by a unifying theme, though. that's the best part about this band- they can be really heady and the songs have multiple layers to them, but they knows how to write music that's so much fun it sucks you in instantly. then as you listen more, everything thats going on in the lyrics comes out. perfect band with a couple perfect records already.

kirbypuckett (October 13, 2006)

ALBUM OF THE YEAR!

I can't believe you didn't mention the song "Hot Soft Light" (unless I missed it). This record is so much fun! The reviewer summed it up perfectly with his description int he first paragraph.

I went a little farther than Dan and listened to this almost exclusively for almost a week - yikes.

- Kirby

Osloboditelj (October 13, 2006)

This album is very good, but the review is near-incomprehensible. I agree with its premise at least.

Anonymous (October 13, 2006)

"The most fun album of deserves your attention right this instant"

Do people proof read/edit these things?

Read the Pitchfork review...

Anonymous (October 13, 2006)

it confuses me that with each successive album, this band gets sold to a younger and younger crowd, so I guess after this one, high school kids get their draft #'s called.

Good band, ill end up giving it a listen.
wyzo

Anonymous (October 13, 2006)

"The most fun album of deserves your attention right this instant."

What does this actually mean?

Anonymous (October 13, 2006)

"Their first on Vagrant Records, Boys and Girls picks up where the critically acclaimed Separation Sunday left off, only with a tightened approach"

What does this actually mean?

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