The Hold Steady album review: ‘Teeth Dreams’


The Hold Steady will perform in the Washinton, DC area. L to R: Bobby Drake, Steve Selvidge, Galen Polivka, Craig Finn, Tad Kubler. (Danny Clinch)
April 4
THE HOLD STEADY
“Teeth Dreams”

Kindred spirits: The Replacements,
Husker Du

Show: With Cheap Girls on Monday at
9:30 Club. Show starts at 8 p.m. 202-265-0930. www.930.com. Show is sold out.

 Four years after their last release, Brooklyn-via-Minneapolis bar-rock heroes the Hold Steady sound reinvigorated on their new album, “Teeth Dreams.”

Following a roster shake-up, the band has solidified an energetic two-guitar attack with founding member Tad Kubler and relative newcomer Steve Selvidge. They charge out of the gate on opener “I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You,” a riff-heavy cautionary tale about reconnecting with troublemaking old friends.

Six albums deep, frontman Craig Finn still tells a great story. With literary wit and a Springsteen-inspired vocal rasp, he spills the emotional highs and regretful lows of booze-soaked nights, often documenting the inner turmoil of lost souls in watering holes. Between the pulsing ax work and catchy hook of “Spinners,” he sums up the outlook of a full-time party girl: “Heartbreak hurts, but you can dance it off.” Shadier characters surface during the dense punk fury of “On With the Business,” as bad choices lead to “waking up with that American sadness.”

The album is full of such brawny fist-pumpers with arena aspirations. Two
notable exceptions are the acoustic “Almost Everything,” in which Finn achingly strums through his insecurity, and the closing “Oaks,” a nine-minute atmospheric slow-burner that climaxes with fuzzy
Crazy Horse-style shredding.

Jedd Ferris

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