19 Essential Hold Steady B-Sides (Stereogum)
One of the first things we hear Craig Finn snarl on his band's 2004 debut album is a simple declaration of intent: "We gotta start it off with a positive jam!" This — and Finn's decade-by-decade American history barrage that precedes it — is where the legend of the Hold Steady, America's premier bookish, beerish, don't-call-them-a-bar-band bar band, begins. Both positivity and jamming have remained the Hold Steady’s mission statement for nearly 15 years. In that time, they’ve lived a dozen lives across six albums, hundreds of whiskey-drenched shows, and minor lineup retooling. Now, the band’s enjoying a career high point, reunited with beloved mustachioed piano man Franz Nicolay (who rejoined in 2016 after six years away) and playing multi-night blowout shows whenever they want, freed from the burdens of album-cycle touring. There's also their newest music, three excellent pairs of standalone tracks that began dropping in late 2017. Long before the horn-drenched glory of last month’s

will always stan THS

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