Sunday, November 29, 2009

Music Decade List #18: The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday (2005)

The template laid down on Separation Sunday has come to define who and what The Hold Steady are. Almost Killed Me showed moments but here is really where everything came together, from Craig Finn's vocal delivery to a intertwined song cycle to the classic rock-isms. Revolving around a cycle of songs about Catholicism, growing up, going to parties, getting wasted, and meeting an assortment of characters, it can be seen as completely contrived. What makes it work is that The Hold Steady truly believe that Rock & Roll can be meaningful and that you can enjoy yourself and still play music. Songs like 'Banging Camp' and 'Chicago Seem Tired Last Night' have an explosive energy and while completely immersed in classic rock tropes, have infectious riffs in them. Coupled that with Finn's talk-singing, and numerous literary and cultural references, it creates a product that you will surely love or loathe. There seems to be no middle ground with The Hold Steady; you're either a true believer or want nothing to do with them. If you get into Separation Sunday, than unironic rock music can still have some sort of impact.

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