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The Hold Steady: Separation Sunday

The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday

There’s no mention of Nightclub Dwight or the Nice Nice, or any Lifter Puller drama. Lead singer Craig Finn is still a storyteller though, and he recounts tales of debauchery. It’s like he ended the Lifter Puller series and is starting new volumes for The Hold Steady. There’s plenty of Twin Cities location dropping, so anyone who has spent time in the Cities will completely groove on the fact that he lived out on 66th and Nicollet and spent time in sleazy parts of the St Paul suburbs and basically got around all over the cities.

There’s also the recurring theme of the dark storytelling. Anyone who has listened to Lifter Puller and The Hold Steady will always talk about the lyrics, the debauchery, the deadpan stories of reality in a drug-addled, non-reality based world of music and counterculture. This guy has spent more time on the wrong side of the tracks than most of us spend on the right side of the tracks. The stories always sound real, interesting, stomach turning, and addicting in themselves. Anyone who has heard them would be lying if they said it was not one of the most interesting part of the band’s offering.

Here’s what I’m having a hard time with – I can’t agree with the music as much as I agreed with Lifter Puller. I don’t want to turn this into some sort of LP hommage, but their music had a sort of immediacy to it, that was combined with an urban punk feel while still maintaining some sort of innovativeness. It was so right now while still being so real with lots of integrity. The Hold Steady sounds more like straight ahead rock and roll that could have been made in the 70’s, with Randy Newmann on Hammond keys and the band recanting a tale of being out on a score at 5:00 AM. The whole thing seems to look back in time - most of the lyrics are in the past tense, like a recounting of tales from a time past.

I’ll still give it good marks though – an off day in the world of the Hold Steady is better than some band’s best offerings.

Best quote from the album: "He came into the E.R. drinking Gin from a jam jar."

RATING: ***** 4 out of 5 stars


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Release Date:
May 2005

Recording Label:
Frenchkiss Records

The Hold Steady: Separation Sunday track list:
01 Hornets! Hornets!
02 Cattle and the Creeping Things
03 Your Little Hoodrat Friend
04 Banging Camp
05 Charlemagne in Sweatpants
06 Stevie Nix
07 Multitude of Casualties
08 Don't Let Me Explode
09 Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night
10 Crucifixion Cruise
11 How a Resurrection Really Feels

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