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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I believe in the power of rock and roll"...
...that's what Craig Finn - singer and lyricist with The Hold Steady - proclaimed with preacher-like rhetoric to the heaving crowd of York Fibbers on Tuesday 20th February, 2007. Dripping with sweat and drunk on (equal parts) alcohol, air-punching guitar riffs and complete hero worship, Craig could have divulged his belief that badgers are our intellectual superiors and...
Published on 26 Nov 2007 by John Tansey

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars If you like the first song you're in luck; there are ten more just like it.
I got this album from a friend, who got it from someone else. He hadn't listened to it, but I had read about them somewhere, probably Uncut or Mojo, and was excited about hearing this amazing blend of Springsteen and The Replacements... and was distinctly underwhelmed, perhaps inevitably. It's not that the descriptions I'd read were inaccurate, they do sound a bit like...
Published on 2 May 2010 by Mr. Te Stringer


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I believe in the power of rock and roll"..., 26 Nov 2007
By 
John Tansey (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
...that's what Craig Finn - singer and lyricist with The Hold Steady - proclaimed with preacher-like rhetoric to the heaving crowd of York Fibbers on Tuesday 20th February, 2007. Dripping with sweat and drunk on (equal parts) alcohol, air-punching guitar riffs and complete hero worship, Craig could have divulged his belief that badgers are our intellectual superiors and are just biding their time until the inevitable takeover, and we'd have all agreed with him. Woodland-based conspiracy theories aside, at that point - if we hadn't already - everyone one of us in that room also believed in the power of rock and roll.

Such is the passion and conviction of this, The Hold Steady's third album, that they'll make you believe almost anything. NME called them "classic rock'n'roll charged with the spirit of hardcore punk" (the band are, at the time of writing, on the magazine's US tour with our own Art Brut and slaying every venue they grace), MOJO gave them a 5/5 rating and called 'Boys & Girls In America' "the first great album of 2007", while Q Magazine (4/5) and 6 Music's Phil Jupitus are also huge fans of the Brooklyn quintet, whereas in that rather cramped room in York, Craig Finn described them as a band who "play bad-ass rock and roll while I just spout bollocks over the top". I would describe them as a group who make my life better with their mere existence.

Listening to their previous two albums, I get the impression that The Hold Steady have been working their way up to producing 'Boys & Girls In America' and this album is where they reach complete and utter perfection. Craig Finn's tales of being young and loaded - featuring of course our heroes Gideon, Charlemagne and Holly - have changed very little over the course of three albums, but when a man writes so articulately and passionately why would you want him to change. Such acute and gorgeously phrased lyrics have as much in common with Tom Waits as they do with Alex Turner, whilst comparisons to Bruce Springsteen are not just musical, as Finn's characters are every bit as desperate, yet in search of redemption, as any Mary or Wendy that the Boss may care to conjure. And despite Finn's multitude of casualties, the rest of the band provide a backing of pure life affirming joy with the kind of rock and roll that nobody seems to make anymore. By way of an explanation, guitarist Tad Kubler (or "The Kooooooob!" as he's known) once said "My sound is, 'What would Jimmy Page do?'...then I joined a band where one of the other band members really hates Led Zeppelin!", a position filled by moustachioed ivory tinkler Franz Nicolay; a man so uncool he's cool, who plays piano like a mix between the E Street Band's Roy Bittan and boogie woogie nuisance Jools Holland (and live also plays a mean harmonica). Growing up in Minneapolis in the 80s, frontman Finn developed a love for underground legends The Replacements, as well as other alt rockers on the scene like Soul Asylum, Dinosaur Jr, and hardcore heroes Monkey Biscuits (a useless fact for you, Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner provides the male vocals on 'Chillout Tent'). With such musical diversity and talent on offer, it would be impossible for The Hold Steady NOT to be one of the best rock bands in the world right now, which of course they are.

'Boys And Girls In America' is the band's first record for Vagrant and by way of a celebration I suppose, the label have decided to re-release the album with a bonus disc containing The Hold Steady's acoustic show at Fingerprints (like an American version of Fopp I think). Fantastic news for UK fans, as the album was only available from independent stores across the pond, and this version has two songs - 'Modesto's Not That Sweet' and the incredible 'First Night' - that weren't even available on that record, but I've got to say, I'm bloody sick and tired of reissues. This year has seen loads, from 'Back To Black' to ANOTHER version of 'A Weekend In The City', and I don't think it's fair. Record companies tell us that we shouldn't illegally download music, but when they re-release albums not even a year after they first came out, I don't see why we should take a damn bit of notice. It's pure exploitation and it's not on. Why wasn't the Fingerprints album made available separately as an EP? Other artists have done this (Ryan Adams recently releasing the chart ineligible 8 track single of 'Everybody Knows' for example), why can't everyone? Record companies still make their money and the fans aren't forking out for something they already own. But rant aside, the bonus disc is good although not essential. I got a copy of the original Fingerprints CD over eBay (being the obsessive I am) and I don't think The Hold Steady should really do the whole acoustic versions thing. It's nice to be able to hear Craig Finn's words more clearly and a novelty to hear Nicolay on the accordion, but with just one acoustic guitar to cover the rhythm it all sounds a little bare and lacking in energy and Finn sounds a bit bored and detached.

If you're new to The Hold Steady I would certainly recommend this album, and this version too, even if it's just for the sexy black slip case with the sparkly purple Hold Steady logo on the front! Definitely check out the other two albums as well now they've been released in the UK, 'Separation Sunday' especially is fantastic and very nearly as good as 'Boys And Girls...' The best way I can think to sum up the effect of The Hold Steady is to say that even at the very mention of their name, and with no other band does this happen to quite the same extent, I get the biggest, silliest smile spread across my face. I love them to pieces and I hope one day you will too.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who Cares If It's Derivative..., 5 Feb 2007
By 
Robbie Red (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Boys And Girls In America (Audio CD)
Who cares if it's derivative, if it's this good. I first heard this album in a music store in Cambridge and stayed to listen to it all. It may remind us of the past, but like all great work, it knows where it's coming from to suggest something new. I like a ridiculous sweep of music but there is something about this album that is so fresh, warming and stirring that you will stop you from NOT listening. Craig Finn is a great rock lyricist and his voice is perfectly suited to his narratives of life in the fast and slow lane. From the brilliant blending of power chords and piano of 'Stuck Between Stations' to the anthemic swirl of organ on the closeout 'Southtown Girls' this is American rock of the highest order... Get in your car, go out on the road and play this CD on repeat.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I believe in the power of rock and roll...", 28 Mar 2007
By 
John Tansey (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Boys And Girls In America (Audio CD)
...that's what Craig Finn - singer and lryicist with The Hold Steady - proclaimed with preacher-like rhetoric to the heaving crowd of York Fibbers on Tuesday 20th February, 2007. Dripping with sweat and drunk on (equal parts) alcohol, air-punching guitar riffs and complete hero worship, Craig could have divulged his belief that badgers are our intellectual superiors and are just biding their time until the inevitable takeover, and we'd have all agreed with him. Woodland-based conspiracy theories aside, at that point - if we hadn't already - everyone one of us in that room also believed in the power of rock and roll.

Such is the passion and conviction of this, The Hold Steady's third album, that they'll make you believe almost anything. NME called them "classic rock'n'roll charged with the spirit of hardcore punk" (well, quite), MOJO gave them a 5/5 rating and called 'Boys & Girls In America' "the first great album of 2007", Q Magazine (who awarded the album a stingy 4/5) and 6 Music's Phil Jupitus are also huge fans of the Brooklyn quintet, whereas in that rather cramped room in York, Craig Finn described them as a band who "play bad-ass rock and roll while I just spout bollocks over the top". I would describe them as a group who make my life better with their mere existance.

Listening to their previous two albums, I get the impression that The Hold Steady have been working their way up to producing 'Boys & Girls In America' and this album is where they reach complete and utter perfection. Craig Finn's tales of being young and loaded are as wonderful as they ever were, featuring of course our favourite heroes Gideon, Charlemagne and Holly. Such acute and gorgeously phrased lyrics have as much in common with Tom Waits as they do with Alex Turner, whilst comparisons to Bruce Springsteen are not just musical, as Finn's characters are every bit as doomed and desperate as any Mary or Wendy that the Boss may care to conjure. Yet for every casualty, there's a moment of pure life affirming joy, such as 'Massive Nights', when "every song was right". Musically, it's the perfect mix of classic guitar riffage, tinkling piano and driving rhythm section. So nothing hugely revolutionary about the instrumentation then, but these guys aren't Radiohead and nor would you want them to be. They're a rock and roll band, and they rock and roll. The only thing is, they do it better than anybody else right now. Or possibly ever.

I just don't know where these guys fit in. With their flannel shirts, less than smooth complexions and, ahem, robust physiques, they're not gunning for the skinny jeaned indie pin up catagory. And for a group in their mid-30s, they may not be quite old enough to have fathered the Arctic Monkey's but they certainly qualify for cool uncle status. They are simply a hard working band; Craig Finn doesn't want to be Bono (unlike Brandon Flowers, which may prove his unfortunate downfall) and The Hold Steady have no designs on Wembley, but with their hard work now paying off, this bar room band may soon require bars as big as stadiums to keep their ever growing army of fans satisfied.

All that's left to say is buy this album. Now. It will make you're life that much better.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We had some massive nights...., 8 Dec 2006
This review is from: Boys And Girls In America (Audio CD)
If you were to scan over Craig Finn's lyrics detailing the youth of America's massive nights of sex, drugs, and getting 'messed up on the music', you might think Boys and Girls in America, The Hold Steady's third album in as many years, is a cautionary tale. Listen to the album, though, and you'll find the tales of drunken kids transformed by Tad Kubler's music into an air-punching celebration of what it is to be young and stupid.

This is an incredible example of words and music merging so perfectly together, colliding, contrasting, expanding and complimenting each other like on no other rock album I've heard in many a year. Whatever reservations you may have about Finn's nasal monotone, this is rock through and through. He's learned to sing (better) since Seperation Sunday, with the music instead of on top of it, immeasurably helping his stories really become songs (not to mention the inclusion of 'whoa whoa whoa' choruses).

The material is similar to SS but the scope is much larger. Heartbreaking stories of trying to fit in even when you know you can't such as 'You Can Make Him Like You' and teenage missions of getting high and wasted for the hell of it are here in spades, but Finn's brilliant lyricism and Kubler's cribbing of Thin Lizzy power chords celebrate and elevate the boys and girls' sad time together to become anthems you've known your whole life. It's not all fist-pumping stuff, the slow piano of 'First Night' is beautiful and the quieter 'Citrus' is also a wonderful moment. Boys and Girls is nostalgic, contemporary, beat, and hugely refreshing in a rock landscape where self-consciousness and irony stretch for miles around.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not their best, but still great., 22 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Boys And Girls In America (Audio CD)
As usual The Hold Steady give us their perfect cake, a bit of smart lyrics, some barre chord and guitar riffs, perfect keyboard and vocal harmonies. However in some places like in stuck between stations the mixture seems to go wrong, and they layer it on a bit thick.
The lyrics get bogged down in the music especially in the choruses which are usually sing a long drunken anthems, become a little noise drowned in music.

However this only happens in a few tracks hence some of the negative reviews, people just can't be bothered to listen to an album more than once, read the lyrics and listen to these songs would be my advice.

For you lazy people you should love these songs which are instant classics.
*Southtown Girls
*First Night
*Hot Soft Light
*Chillout Tent

This album is not for the lazy f**kers who simply slap on an album and expect every song to grab them in the nuts, every lyrics to stand out and to be able to appreciate every song on the first listen.

Give this album another listen if you are one of these lazy people before judging it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not the future of rock and roll, 6 Sep 2007
This review is from: Boys And Girls In America (Audio CD)
but about as good a distillation of it's spirit and essence as you'll find from any band around today.
This is fantastic.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars why not just ENJOY it!!, 2 Sep 2007
By 
R. M. Collins "rock dad" (Nottingham) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Boys And Girls In America (Audio CD)
I saw The Hold Steady on Jools Holland and bought the album. I took some mates to see them in Nottingham and told them they were going to "Love this band" and they did. We are "Rock Dad's" and proud of it! Are you supposed to roll over and listen to the likes of Keane if you're over 40 (Or more)? I saw the Beatles (Twice) and Otis Reading and many many more over the years..I want to say that I enjoyed The Hold Steady as much as any of them!Craig Finn just grinned his way through the gig like he couldn't believe his luck being paid to have a good time.(My mate reckoned he looked more like a librarian than a rock singer.) He thanked the crowd and said what a joy it was to play to us...I believe him. I love early Springstein and I love this! What's with all the whinging (I also like Counting Crows)....so this may not be ground breaking stuff..but it sure does it for me, what's wrong with just ENJOYING IT?? At the end of the day that's what I pay my hard earned money for.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe the hype, 18 Feb 2007
By 
Simon Smith "Alty fan" (West Midlands UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Boys And Girls In America (Audio CD)
I bought this album 6 weeks ago on import on the strength of Uncut naming it Album of the Month. Unlike some of the reviewers above I see no reason for disappointment. Indeed on the strength of this I've already purchased the Hold Steady's other two albums and seen them live. The criticisms to date seem to be they are derivative (those who see them as saying nothing new) or they are not derivative enough (those who want them to be a Springsteen/E Street Band tribute band). The reality is like any great band they have their influences but they shape them into something new, helped to a degree by the vocals and lyrics, which to some degree are the USP. As far as I see it most guitar bands at the moment are happy to namecheck and borrow from many bands of the last 40 or so years. THS seem to draw inspiration from a scene that hasn't been revived or plundered for inspiration by the masses and all credit to them for that.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe the praise is justified, 22 Feb 2007
By 
Mr. A. Poolan "Griss" (UK) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Boys And Girls In America (Audio CD)
I first heard about The Hold Steady when Uncut made this 'Album of the Month' and has I have often bought their albums of the month and rarely been disappointed I gave it a go. First of all I can hear all of the pluses and minuses that are covered in the various reviews - the album is exciting and feels fresh and it also reminds me of Springsteen in his 1975-78 (no bad thing) and Craig Finn does have a little of Adam Duritz about him - the guy who was 'moved to tears' because it is so bad and he hates Counting Crows has clearly never listened to either band properly or has a hearing problem - still he doesn't like 'Snore' Patrol so he can't be all bad! There are great songs here and a joy of playing and energy that is infectious - on that basis I feel the praise here and in the press overall is justified. The album rewards the more you listen to it - I have to agree with the guy who thought the production was a bit muddy. The vocals seem low in the mix and there is a feeling of everyone fighting for air at first - but once you get into the songs it doesn't matter anymore - it falls into place. Give it a try - I'm sure that most buyers won't be disappointed.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Have Seen The Future Of Rock 'n' Roll........., 26 Feb 2007
This review is from: Boys And Girls In America (Audio CD)
Let's get a few things out of the way first. Yes they do sound like early Springsteen, yes they occasionally nick riffs off Thin Lizzy and yes they might be best bar band in the world, but this is the best damn album I've heard in ages. What's not to like - blue collar tales of youth and excess, Craig Finn's scattergun Costello-like phrasing and choruses you can shout along to. Finn may namecheck Minneapolis regularly but these are tales of a teenage wasteland anywhere - chillout tents at Glastonbury or Lollapalooza. What's more it makes even more sense if you see them live. I saw them last night and it was akin to seeing Bruce in '75 or Costello in '77 (in fact I saw Costello in '77 and his performance was as electric). But this is more than just guys of a certain age channelling their inner Springsteen, this is the beginning (or the 3rd album anyway) of something really big. Buy the album, love it and then check 'em out in a dive near you before you can only see them in enormodomes.
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