CD Review: The Hold Steady


The Hold Steady
Heaven Is Whenever
Vagrant
By David chiu

Indie rockers the Hold Steady return with another strong album with Heaven Is Whenever. Though by no means does this new album break any major stylistic ground, it is full of the driving and earnest rootsy rock music this group has been known for by now. It begins with the somewhat bluesy and reflective “The Sweet Part of the City” before delving into some stirring rockers such as “Soft in the Center” (with a lyrical, stadium-inspired guitar solo and “The Weekenders.” There are also a few interesting diversions from the rockers such as the jazzy and poppy Barely Breathing and the lush, ethereal “We Can Together.” The latter song and the energetic “Rock Problems’ make cool references to Utopia, Husker Du and especially Cheap Trick: “Didn’t want to go out but it felt really right when someone put on Heaven Tonight/Had a moment in the middle of “In Color” and “In Black and White/”Sing along to the “Southern Girls.” (Nice!) The album ends on a grand fashion with the seven minute-plus title track. Lyrically the album touches on the abstract and the identifiable (i.e. the protagonist telling his wildfire girlfriend to mature on “Hurricane J”; the live-for-the-moment sentiment on “Our Whole Lives”). Heaven Is Whenever is an overall rewarding from this Brooklyn band.

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