Matt and Ryan are joined by Mark Lee to discuss The Hold Steady’s Teeth Dreams.[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/archive.org/download/tft104/tft104.mp3]
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I love Springsteen, but despite that fact I just have never really been able to get into The Hold Steady. I don’t know what it is. I mean, other than the fact I don’t like Craig Finn’s voice and I think the lyrics are pretty poor. Finn is a storyteller, but he’s a boring one.
On another note, I’d like to suggest an artist, and an album, for future consideration. I’ve been listening to Courtney Barnett’s The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas and I think it is ripe for conversation. Apparently the album came out in 2013, but her star seems to be on the rise here in the States, as opposed to her native Australia. She was just on Jimmy Fallon the other night, and it was great.
Yeah, the “Springsteen meets postpunk” pitch doesn’t work for everyone- especially if the vocals are a big part of what attracts you to the Boss. I also think that description is only really accurate for Boys and Girls in America, as that has the arrangements that are most similar to Born to Run. “Verbose Self-Referential Bar Band” is probably a better description, especially for the first two records. For experimental purposes, give “Shine a Light” by the Constantines a spin- they also get the “Punk Springsteen” comparison, but more with Springsteen vocals over post-punk instrumentals.
I do like Finn as a lyricist a lot, but I don’t know if the appeal for me is in the stories. I like it a lot more at the “micro-level” of individual lines that land hard and specific references than at the higher level of song-level or album-level narrative. I guess in that way, it is actually very similar to Gossip Girl which excelled in the small details and moments, but often was very unsatisfying at the level of plot (and like THS, I found that to be a feature rather than a bug).
I’ll put Courtney Barnett into my playlist that contains the rest of the albums that we’re considering for TFT. I heard Avant Gardener on a “Best of 2013” playlist back in December but haven’t gotten to dig into the Sea of Split Peas too much. To be continued once I give it a few more spins…
Yeah, “Avant Gardener” is the highlight of the album, and the song I heard that made me file her away for future reference. I don’t usually get much of a chance to listen to full albums. The last one I listened to top to bottom was the new Dum Dum Girls, which was a bit disappointing, in terms of direction for the band.
I don’t know if I have heard the Constantines, although I have heard many a band get associated with Springsteen, which required varying degrees of salt, most prominently Gaslight Anthem. Of course, band comps are a tricky proposition. I heard Speedy Ortiz called a “combination of Pavement and Helium” which was about the highest praise anything could get ever in my book, and in the end I just couldn’t get into them.
Just had to stop and tell my husband “this is why I’m internet-friends with these people” in honor of your ability to insert a Gossip Girl reference into any kind of discussion. *clap clap* :)