The Hold Steady: Boys and Girls in America


It’s peculiar that The Hold Steady are considered “indie," considering there’s no whiney “Mountain Goats/Decemberists/Shins” thing going on.  Upon listening to Boys and Girls in America, you’re almost bound to ask “ what Springsteen album is this?” Play Boys and Girls in any roadhouse bar, and a toothless trucker with a mullet will ask for another round.

With the tinkering acoustic piano and husky “Boss” vocals, The Hold Steady are a refreshing throwback to “good classic rock.” As in their 2005 epic Separation Sunday, front-man Craig Finn continues the youth theme on Boys and Girls in America. Mall odysseys, party pits and first nights all arrive into 11 rough and tumble tales. Oddly, this lyrical content is hardly profound, but Finn has a way of delivering the goods as in “Chips Ahoy!”  when Finn sings– “how am I supossed to know that you’re high, if you won’t let me touch you.” Mix together the classic rock power chords of “Hot Soft Light," the party ska of “Massive Nights,” and  the E Street Band bravado of "Stuck Between Stations," and you’re suddenly at the Stone Pony in ’75.

Although much has been said of Finn, hand it to the Hold Steady players – Tad, Galen, Bobby and Franz – whose blue collar energy makes this outfit arguably the best bar band in America.  As Finn, wraps it up on the final track  – “Southtown Girls won’t blow you away/but you know that they’ll stay” – take it any way you want, The Hold Steady are here to stay.

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