Barred For Life

The Hold Steady's high-voltage crunch happens to sound great in bars. But please don't call them a bar band.

Forget about the chorus, let's take it to the bridge: The Hold Steady
Courtesy of 2:30 Publicity
Forget about the chorus, let's take it to the bridge: The Hold Steady

Live, the Hold Steady are less of a whirlwind, but Finn's songwriting hasn't gone anywhere. If anything, it's more focused, a hair less prone to word repetition for its own sake--though with Finn, the repetition always serves a rhythmic end if not a narrative one. And the tension between the band's traditional approach and Finn's widescreen vision makes Almost Killed Me the year's first great rock album. Not bad for a (cough cough) bar band.

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