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on 15 January 2015
It's all here - musically it's Springsteen meets The Clash via The Replacements with some unashamedly rock guitar..lyrics from Kerouac, John Berryman, Dylan, Tom Waits and Raymond Carver..."Sequestered In Memphis" is a stone cold classic, and "Two Handed Hanshake" has the simplest, but best little horn riff I've heard for years, and beautifully puts down those weekend wannabe bad boys.."Magazines" describes many a girl I've known.. And the whole albums rocks like a b*stard. Hugely enjoyable.
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VINE VOICEon 24 June 2015
Really great Hold Steady album. Has some of the best songs Springsteen never wrote. Clearly in thrall to the sound of the E-Street Band, this lot go big, with the sound and the stories of small town America. Deserves to be played loud and hollered out the window of your car. After me....Subpoena'd In Memphis, Sequestered In Texas!
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on 8 September 2008
At first hearing it sounds as if everything is well in the Hold Steady camp, as Constructive Summer and Hey Sapphire do the business. But after another few plays it seems that the wheels have come off the wagon. Their previous album was arguably the best of 2006, but this is just plain disappointing, unfocused, cluttered production. Even Craig Finn's lyrics aren't up to their usual high standards. I'm going back to play the first two albums to remind me how good these guys are. But in rock and roll three out of four ain't bad and I rate Stay Positive's `Lord, I'm Discouraged' which is like an early episode of Twin Peaks.
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on 5 September 2013
There isn't a track on this album which doesn't beg to be played again and again.
It's a summer album and it feels like it.

Craig's vocals are his best in this album, clearer but just as gritty and rocky as usual. It helps because you can hear every part of drunken poetry can be heard.
Speaking of drunken poetry, this album once again shows us why Craig is quite possibly the greatest lyricist of this generation.
The prime example is Both Crosses which contains just as much religious metaphors as any song on Separation Sunday. The lyrics are well crafted.
Obviously the guitar solos are present, ranging from the barre chord anthems to the perfect finger picking on songs like Lord, i'm Discouraged. It's classic rock.
As Craig Finn announced in the first track "our songs are singalong songs" and he's right. Perfect examples are Stay Positive and Slapped Actress with chants perfect for live performances.

Every song consists of layers and layers everytime you listen you appreciate the lyrics, the singing, the guitar work and the crazy keyboard/piano pounding just a little bit more and how they all work in unison to create an almost perfect album possibly their best.

And the believe the message of this album is bad stuff happens, but you can get through it, Stay Positive. And I think that just adds to this album's awesomeness.

It's going to take a lot of listens to fully appreciate the songs though so make sure you give it a chance.
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on 15 July 2008
Writing this review I don't mean to sound judgemental or condecending, but I feel I must take a moment to vent my rage.

The Hold Steady are a band who along with many other great American artists(Richmond Fontaine and The National to name two) who are continually ignored by the general public in the UK.
This is the band's 4th album and I firmly beleive it to be their career high-point to date.

If you are yet to hear the dlights of Craig Finn and co, then let me take a second to discribe their sound.
Imagine if you will Bruce Springteens's E Street Band having grown up listening to 80's punk legends Husker Du and Fugazi, then decideing to bring in a poetic literate (much in the same vein as our own home-grown genius Mark E Smith) to bring the stories to their songs, and your somewhere near knowing what they sound like.

In the early part of the decade, 'The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me' was released to much critical acclaim from across the pond, and yet did'nt make so much as a rain drop in the puddle of hype left by The Strokes thunderstorm.

Non-detered the band ploughed on and released 'Seperation Sunday' in 2005, which again garnered huge praise by ou american cousins. But alas bands such as Coldplay and Snow Patrol bored their way into the public's record collection instead. *sigh*.

But again The Hold Steady continued to spread their sermon to the unwanting masses, and at the end of 2006 released the startling good record 'Boy's and Girl's in America'. But, you guessed it, the album was ignored in favour of such modern greats like Hard-Fi and The Kooks, who's legacy I'm sure will be talked about for years to come. (Apoligises to any American's reading this, but thats what you call 'being Ironic').

And so we come to 2008 and the band have once again decided to bring their gospel to this country's sorry music scene, and I implore each of you reading this review to make the effort to discover this seminal band before it's too late.
So instead of wasting your hard-earned money on the latest fashion statement (don't get me started on One Night Only) give this record a try, and y'know what ?, it might just change your life.

I'm sorry to any Hold Steady fans reading this who maybe wanted an opinion on the record itself, but I figured you already knew how truly special this band are, and were gonna buy it with or without my recommendation. So let's just be grateful Craig Finn has once again decided to bring the sermon to this unknowing (or un-caring) country.

And I'll see you on the front pew.
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on 30 July 2009
The Hold Steady's last LP, Boys and Girls in America, was a masterclass in how to produce the perfect classic rock record. Stay Positive is a more punk offering than it's predecessor, rawer in production and less poppy in execution, and it wears that fact on it's sleeve, with Finn referencing Iggy Pop and Joe Strummer on the opening number then giving shout outs to Youth of Today and 7 Seconds on the title track.

Not that the classic rock touchstones have gone anywhere. The parched psychedelia of Both Crosses recalls Led Zep, while Tad Kubler tears through a guitar solo worthy of Slash on power ballad Lord I'm Discouraged. They even channel a new wave vibe on Navy Sheets, though the charging aggression of the synths and guitar bring to mind The Cars being chased down a dark alley by Black Flag.

The band further broaden their horizons on One for the Cutters, where 'boards man Franz endearingly drops in and out of time on a baroque harpsichord part, and Yeah Sapphire, where chiming guitars replace chugging riffs.

It's also a darker record than anything the band have done before, with Finn interweaving the tale of a brutal murder into his usual tales of debauchery and youthful indiscretion, with typical lyrical verve.

The one element where this is a smoother production is in Finn's vocals. He's actually singing here, (apparently he took lessons) really for the first time, backed by the gravelly harmonies of Lucero's Ben Nichols and Drive-By Truckers' Patterson Hood.

I don't think this is quite as strong an album as Boys & Girls, for me the riffs and melodies haven't lodged in my cerebral cortex in quite the same way. But anything would suffer in comparison. This still rocks.
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on 22 December 2008
Hi this is just a quick review to let everyone know that this is really a great album. I was put off for 6 months by indifferent reviews. I bought the last album and was blown away, went to see them in Brum and they were awesome. I thne got the previous 2 cds seperation and almost killed me and they were soundablikes but not as good as 'america'. After the indifferent postings I thought I'd leave stay positive. What a dumbass! I was bored at the weekend couldnt find eanything else to get and bought this and I am so glad I did. It is a real grow full of the timeless lyrics that Finn is famed for and really thought provoking, especially in the current doom and gloom climate we really need to Stay Positive. A reall treasure, very uplifting. Wish I bought it in the Summer.
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VINE VOICEon 20 March 2009
Musically, it sounds great. The Hold Steady sound like the best pub band you've ever heard, great tunes and a hugely enjoyable racket all round, and there are times when you feel like jumping around the room with joy and excitement.

However, I do have a problem with the band, and sadly it is a pretty big one. I really hate the singer's voice. An unlovely croak of a thing, he sounds like he's somewhere between gargling and being sick at times, barking out the lyrics in an unappealing way, and it frankly ruins the whole thing. I confess I listened to this album once and consigned it to my shelves, probably never to be listened to again. Maybe I should have given it more time and effort, but it's just that voice...

My tip: Listen to some of their stuff on YouTube, and if you like what you hear, you'll like the album. If like me, you dislike his voice, spend your money elsewhere. I wish I'd done that myself rather than listening to press reviewers.
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on 20 September 2008
I just wanted to say that I am flabergasted by the 2 reviews whcih rate this as 2 stars. I would say that if anything, the first 2 albums are a band finding their feet, Boys and Girls in America sees them finally perfect the early sound and this is something else entirely.
Craig Finn's voice is definitely at it's best on this album as is Tad Kubler's outstanding guitar (check the J Mascis' esque solo on 'Lord I'm Discouraged.)
Elsewhere, banjo and harpsichord add an element never heard before and if you're looking for a Chips Ahoy! look no further than the title track itself. I literally have not stopped playing this and have recommended it to most of my mates, who also have been won over (even my old man who is very sceptical of hype!)
In short, ignore the second and third review and indulge in a true classic.
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on 10 March 2009
Outstanding! The Hold Steady improve on "Boys and Girls In America" with a wider range of instruments but the same level of attack and superbly quirky lyrics.
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