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Artists I’m supposed to like: The Hold Steady by jason
May 5, 2010, 9:24 am
Filed under: Artists I'm Supposed to Like | Tags:


Everything about the band The Hold Steady sounds good to me on paper. They write concept albums filled with literary and biblical allusions. They have characters that recur throughout their albums. Craig Finn is a very “specific” songwriter, meaning he isn’t trying to write a universal love song or something everyone can relate to; his songs are about very specific people doing very specific things. His approach, then, is less like a songwriter in the traditional sense and more like a short story writer.

As a Mountain Goats fan, the band is interesting, as Finn cites John Darnielle as an influence. In fact, in the song “Girls Like Status,” Craig sings:

It was song number 3 on John’s last CD
“I’m going to make it through this year if it kills me”
And it almost killed me

It seems that this band was formulated using SCIENCE!!! to be my favorite band. Except…

I don’t like them.

I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s Finn’s half-talking-half-singing thing he does, or that he always sounds like he needs to clear his throat. Maybe it’s the use of bad puns. Maybe it’s that weird combination of bar band sound and hyper-articulate lyrics. Maybe it’s how Finn crams those hyper-articulate lyrics into very little space. Here’s an example:

See, it’s not that it’s actually bad. He’s a talented songwriter, and the rest of the band is good at what they do. It’s just not my thing.

That’s not to say I dislike everything they do. They have a few songs I really like (“Little Hoodrat Friend,” “Chillout Tent”). It’s just that everyone…the Mountain Goats fan community, Pitchfork, Spin, hell, even freakin’ Harry Potter…they are all in love with this band. I just can’t seem to do it.

Oh well. We already knew I was uncool.

-jason

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1 Comment so far
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I blame pitchfork.

Comment by Eli Gundry




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