It seems safe to say that Brooklyn’s The Hold Steady has become one of New York’s most beloved indie bands. After all, back in 2005, with only two albums under its belt, it was the first rock act in about 15 years to grace the Village Voice’s cover. Its new album, Stay Positive, was released across the pond yesterday on the U.K. staple Rough Trade, and comes out today in the U.S. on the more pop-punk oriented Vagrant Records. The critics are already fawning. Salon describes The Hold Steady—four members are originally from Minneapolis, the fifth plays accordion in the Brooklyn-based cabaret-punk troupe the World/Inferno Friendship Society—as “a New York Indie rock band for people who hate New York indie rock bands,” and it deemed Stay Positive a “Soundtrack for the great American road trip.” Pitchfork says “the ballads are weepier, the rock songs more immediate, the attempts to diversify more striking.” According to Entertainment Weekly, “the music stays in a state of arrested exhilaration … What keeps it all from being a classic-rock pastiche is [Front man] Craig Finn’s drolly rendered vocals and weird storytelling, which make the Hold Steady something you’re certain you’ve never heard before.” And writing in The Wall Street Journal, John Jurgensen says, “Finn is a storyteller whose characters often collide in beery settings. His drawling delivery and eye for small-town detail has drawn comparisons to Bruce Springsteen.” And our own Gabe Boylan … well, he doesn’t like it too much actually. (Stay Positive has also drawn comparisons to the work of fellow Minneapolis natives and seminal punk rockers Husker Du.) Listen to the track “Magazines” below.
There’s no shortage of rock-snob-approved ‘70s punk bands making waves in 2008. The New York Dolls just opened up for Morrissey again in the U.K. Gang of Four recently announced it will be recording its first new material in more than 15 years. And today, Wire, who are slated to appear with Gang of Four at a U.K. festival later this summer, releases its new album, the band’s eleventh, in the U.S. It’s called Object 47 and it’s the first Wire record without all the original members. So you could either dust off your copy of Pink Flag (above, watch them perform that album’s classic title track on May 30 at South Street Seaport), or listen to the dancey new tune “One of Us” below.
In hip hop news, Billboard reports that Nas is set to do a 21-date North American tour—with Talib Kweli as an opener—starting in Montreal on July 22 in support of his new untitled album, which comes out today on Def Jam. According to Billboard: “In May, Nas dropped his forthcoming album’s original title, N*gger, and reclassified the album as an untitled project. The rapper’s most recent album, 2006’s Hip-Hop Is Dead, has sold 758,000 copies in the United States.” And if you can make it to the Virgin Megastore today at 5 p.m., Nas will be there signing copies of the new disc. No word yet on the New York tour date.
Lastly, some of you may remember the Vines, a garage rock band from Australia who had a semi-hit in 2001 that everyone said sounded sort of like Nirvana, hence making them popular for a hot second. They release their new album, Melodia, on Saturday, available for purchase in the U.S. exclusively through Insound, which begs the question: Does anyone still order CDs from Insound?