Sunday, November 26, 2006

The critics have spoken!

"It's hard to believe that anyone could honestly deny the ass-kickingness of Boys and Girls in America, the band's strongest offering to date. From start to finish, the album is filled with monster melodies in the form of dramatic monologues and screeching instrumentals. Don't believe me? Try opener 'Stuck Between Stations' which pauses two-thirds of the way through for some Ben Folds-esque piano tomfoolery before launching into some of the most searing lead-guitar licks pretty much ever!" - Tiny Mix Tapes

"On several tracks, the swirls of organ they've added to their hyper-literate stomping suggest Deep Purple with a library card!" - Entertainment Weekly

"Any album that starts off with a quote from On the Road is gonna score some points with me!" - Delusions Of Adequacy

"Finn's critics could say—justifiably—that he's in a songwriting rut, but it's hard to complain when he comes up with lines like She was a damn good dancer / But she wasn't all that great of a girlfriend or I got really high and then I came to in the chill-out tent / They gave me oranges and cigarettes!" - The Onion

"Once again Finn has proven himself highly quotable and perhaps one of today's strongest lyricists -- there's a reason why critics like him so much!" - Prefix

"'First Night' finds ex-Blackgirls and current Dear Enemy singer Dana Kletter dueting with Finn in a theatrically appealing manner reminiscent of Meat Loaf and Ellen Foley, closing with the potent observation that 'when they kiss they spit white noise'!" - Shaking Through

"'Gonna walk around and drink some more,' he says, making it sound like the smartest thing ever said, so he decides to repeat it!" - Neumu

"says something worth hearing!" - Pitchfork

"talking more than singing!" - Blender

"Finn sings more than speaks!" - Pitchfork

"Finn has a nasal, assured bleat!" - Stylus

"His insanely verbose yarn-spinning still links 1973 Bruce Springsteen to 1982 Mark E. Smith; and his Minneapolis-via-Brooklyn band sounds beefier and more melodramatic than ever!" - Blender

"The gentler surroundings encourage Finn to calm down and sing with a lilt of compassion!" - Paste

"Lyrics can sometimes be summed up by lines that approximate the effect of a chorus, even if they're presented more like a thesis statement: 'I've had kisses that make Judas seem sincere,' 'When they kiss they spit white noise,' the aforementioned 'Gonna walk around and drink some more'...Unlike many of those who've translated big, arena-ready guitars into arena-sized audiences, Finn doesn't resort to confidently sung platitudes like 'It's a beautiful day!', 'Look at the stars/ See how they shine for you,' or 'I'm not OK!'" - Pitchfork

"Whenever I feel helpless about the U.S.A., frozen in my tracks like a first day intern thrown into a frantic emergency room, I turn to the one band who seem truly able to crack open up the chest cavity of this country in critical condition, examining its heart (and its liver), and stamp a big, bold 'ROCK ON!' across its unclean bill of health. And I think to myself: Hell yeah. The Hold Steady, you see, distill everything down its essence. What is important are the people right in front of them. What matters are the Boys and Girls in America. They are our target audience; they drive the economy; as our oldest children, they are our immediate future. Morbidly self-involved, they are also our cultural barometer!" - PopMatters

"Nothing stands in the way or looks down upon this simplicity; it is what it is and that's a truth reflective of Boys and Girls and the Hold Steady on the whole. This is nothing more than what It is. This is simply rock. But, It has the strength of that simplicity. It can stand up to anything. You bash against It, searching for weakness. You turn around, and turn It on again. This is as good as American Rock gets, and that's a damn good thing!" -

"The Hold Steady's brand of rock is far too literate and specific for the masses anyway! Boys and Girls in America is party music for the indie nerds, over-educated and obsessives!" - Prefix

"a combo that sounds like nothing so much as latter period Soul Asylum fronted by Charles Nelson Reilly!" - Can't Stop The Bleeding

Monday, November 20, 2006

Part of the reason I haven't been writing much on here the last few months is that I've being doing some freelance song doctor work with a variety of stars from yesterday, today and tomorrow, including Billy Idol (who qualifies as a star of both yesterday and tomorrow in my estimation, if not today). Billy decided to fill his upcoming Christmas album with seasonal chestnuts rather than the holiday-themed interpretations of his classics we spent the better part of September working on (thanks again to the good people at Sanctuary Records for releasing the album so soon after its admittedly spontaneous creation - Billy's a spur of the moment guy), but I figured I could share one of our more inspired collaborations with you all.

Jingle Bell (Jesus and Santa, I Praise Thee In Song)
written by Billy Idol, Anthony Miccio and Steve Stevens

Last night a little santa came dancin' to my door
Last night I found some presents were dumped on the floor
He said, "Come on, Rudolph! I get one night for love"
And if it expires, pray help from above

Because in the midnight hour, he cried "Ho! Ho! Ho!"
With a jingle bell, he cried "Ho! Ho! Ho!"
In the midnight hour, baby, "Ho! Ho! Ho!"
"Ho! Ho! Ho!"

He don't like the naughty, he will give them coal
But when there's milk and cookies, he'll eat his belly full
Who set you free and brought you to me, Santa?
Who set you free? Christianity!

Because in the midnight hour, he cried "Ho! Ho! Ho!"
With a jingle bell, he cried "Ho! Ho! Ho!"
In the midnight hour, baby, "Ho! Ho! Ho!"
"Ho! Ho! Ho!"

He lives in his frozen heaven
And works from seven to seven
Well, he's out all night in the Christmas air
To show that, to show that Jesus cares

Jesus gave his life for you, babe
Turned water to wine, for you
He'll dry your tears of pain
every time for you
I give my soul to you, Lord
Money to burn just for you
Jesus gives you all and will have none, babe
Lets-a-lets-a-lets-a-lets-a have some Christmas cheer!

Because in the midnight hour, he cried "Ho! Ho! Ho!"
With a jingle bell, he cried "Ho! Ho! Ho!"
In the midnight hour, baby, "Ho! Ho! Ho!"
"Ho! Ho! Ho!"

I may post "Ice Without Capades" on here closer to the actual holiday.
Acknowledging Christmas before Thanksgiving always strikes me as a bit tacky, no matter what J. Crew says, but I felt this was worth making an exception. Though I'll miss the potential royalties (who won't be bringing this album home for their favorite MILF this holiday season?), I don't begrudge the absence of my work on the final product. It may take three hours for Albini to finish placing the mics, but he only needs one take to capture some true Idolatry. Observe:

It was unusually warm in Chicago that night, but Billy gave us chills.