The Hold Steady – Thrashing Thru the Passion (Frenchkiss Records)

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Hordes of immaculately coiffured individuals who would consider themselves to be better men than I, the so-called trendsetters and navel gazing hipsters, have written treatises, columns, essays and fractured chapbooks that detail the history of The Hold Steady,  all of which are rich in chin stroking, self-delusion and a wealth of catatonia inducing information that collectively fails to acknowledge the most important aspect of the band in question. That is, that The Hold steady are a rock’n’roll band who, in the finest tradition of their rabble rousing forefathers, write horrendously catchy songs that make you want to drink and dance long into the night.

Oh sure, I could follow the example set by the rapidly fading, self-elected glitterati and tell the world how listening to a new Hold Steady record is like capturing starlight in a jar that you then keep hidden in a box under your bed and only stare at when you think no-one else is in the house or can see you. It’s an incredibly personal, moving experience that convinces you that there’s still a little magic, and wonder, left in the world and if you look hard enough you’ll find it in the most unexpected places. Sure, I could do that. But I’m not going too. I’m not going to do that because I don’t need too. And I don’t need too because if you give it a chance, Thrashing Thru The Passion will tell you everything that you need to know about the Hold Steady.

Thrashing Thru the Passion will share the same bar stool wisdom that I would over a couple of beers on warm, drawn out Summer evening.  It’ll tell you that The Hold steady are what The Clash would have sounded like if they were from Chicago, hadn’t broke up in 1986 and were fronted by Elvis Costello instead of Joe Strummer. It’ll tell you that The Hold Steady were raised on new wave, cherry picked the best bits of the late seventies punk scene and rolled them in the rich history of Americana before giving the valedictorian speech their graduation from Springsteen High School and that they finally emerged, fully formed, from Waits University with a PHD in modern prose after studying under, and then chasing the ghost of, Warren Zevon. It’ll tell you all that and more because they are The Hold Steady and this is Thrashing Thru the Passion. And that is all that anyone ever needs to know…  Tim Cundle

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