Heaven is Whenever By The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady is an NYC-based band that a lot of you may never have heard of. But, if after reading this review you feel compelled to go and look them up, what you’ll find is a fierce but profound quartet that is so diverse they seem to be channeling equal parts Springsteen and Arctic Monkeys when they play rock music. Born in Brooklyn in 2004, the band has just released its fifth studio album, Heaven Is Whenever, and is already their highest-charting record so far.
The record opens on a slow and sultry note with “Sweet Part Of The City,” giving the record a more subtle and artistic footing than the raucous chorus-rock that normally comes from the band. There’s some great slide guitar throughout the track that plays just as much of a part in describing the Sweet Part Of The City as Craig Finn’s vocals actually do.
The next track “Soft In The Center” brings back Finn’s authentic vocal growl and picks the energy of the album up somewhat. “The Weekenders” and “The Smidge” finish the job of energizing The Hold Steady’s music making the album excellent at easing the listener in to the band’s world.
Other top tracks include “We Can Get Together” which shows a softer, quasi-ballad side of The Hold Steady’s repertoire - it’s unusual for them and the lilting notes turn out to be quite compelling. “Barely Breathing” has such a relaxed vibe that it sounds like an acoustic jam between friends, and “Hurricane J” (which is the album’s first single) stands out as excellent, catchy radio fare.
Overall, Heaven Is Whenever has a more modern feel than The Hold Steady’s previous record. It doesn’t bring anything that you wouldn’t expect the band Rolling Stone calls “America’s greatest bar room band” to come up with, but at least it does show that they’re moving forward with their own style.
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