The Hold Steady
Boys and Girls in America
It is a little-known fact that Bruce Springsteen is a big fan of LA rock punk band Social Distortion. If you ever wondered how Born To Run would have sounded if covered by Social Distortion, look no further than this excellent album.
The Hold Steady were responsible for one of 2005's best albums, in Separation Sunday. Here, they turn up the rock epic soundscape, and Craig Finn sings his street Kerouac poetry as well as perfecting his Randy Newman drawl-sing. One of the few lyricists worth listening to, the tales of the wilder side of life are perfectly underpinned by the musical rock and balladry of the tight Brooklyn band. The piano, which echoes the main instrument in Born To Run so well, gives this album the edge over its predecessor - it feels like it's over in no time, such is its energy.
If there's a criticism, it is that, while the music edges up the professionalism in a lot of good ways, the lyrics are a little more one-dimensional than before. But don't let that stop you - this is a whirlwind of exhilaration.