woensdag 14 mei 2014

Teeth dreams. The Hold Steady

I came to The Hold Steady late. When? I can't even really remember. Someone gave me a copy of a cd once. For some reason the bonustracks were on it first and I remember loving the three extra songs, but got somewhat bored later into the regular cd. And that was it basically, until I ran into Teeth dreams recently. Again I fell for the vitally of the songs of The Hold Steady and again I ran into that same problem: The one size fits all voice of Craig Finn. Rough, hoarse, tough. Like a market salesman. I can hear him shout "three baskets of strawberries for the price of one" at the end of the market's day. This is not the kind of voice I prefer to listen to when someone is singing. On the other hand, I just watched an episode of 'Derksen on the road' about Zoeterwoude's most famous band ever, The Shoes. Craig Finn still has a lot to learn before he matches Theo Van Es' rasped potato voice. I loved to sing along to 'Nanana', 'Don't you cry for a girl' and 'Osaka' as a kid. So I ought to get used to Finn's.

The Hold Steady is a band from NYC consisting of Tad Kubler (guitar), Galen Polivka (bass), Bobby Drake (drums), and Steve Selvidge (guitar), next to singer Craig Finn of course. The band started in 2004 and released its first album in the same year. In the first six years The Hold Steady released five albums. ("Mine"'s 2008s 'Stay positive', now I looked it up.) So it is not so surprising that I lost sight (ear?) of the band, as Teeth dreams is its first in four years.

Teeth dreams is an inspired album. The Hold Steady doesn't seem to hold back. This album really rocks and for me the good part is that by the time I start getting an overdose of the format of The Hold Steady, the band does something completely different. But I'll get back to that later. The main part of Teeth dreams is solid. This to me is an adequate description of the wall of sound the band presents. Two guitars left and right, drums, bass and voice somewhere down the middle. An overdub here and there and some keyboards for the accents. Together all is filled. Not unlike The Tragically Hip in its first years. The tempo is hardly ever real fast, but mid-tempo plus and straight down the cd. In a way that it is always rock and at times some roll to. The sound is always tinted darkly, mostly because of Craig Finn's voice. The mood is never exuberant because of that. There always is a downside because of this rasp.

It is the mix of the rock songs with the rock ballads that gives Teeth dreams its balance. A song like 'Oaks' takes on epic proportions while staying within bounds. Not timewise as the song clocks just under 9 minutes. Long, warm organ sounds, loose piano notes, a wailing guitar in combination with at least three other ones all doing something else. 'Oakes' is the sort of rock ballad fun an old rocker like me thrives on every once in a while. What a way to end Teeth dreams and probably show, but that is my, uneducated, guess. Nothing can come after 'Oaks'.

Except putting Teeth dreams back on of course. Starting again with the REM like 'I hope this whole thing didn't frighten you', a 'The end of the world' sort of rocker missing the haunted 80s bomb angst.

A fun fact is that teeth dreams are one of the most recurring dreams of humanity and to be more specific, dreams about teeth falling out. So now I know I'm not unique in having had a dream like that two or three times. What I should also not be unique in, is my appreciation of this album. Teeth dreams is a good and very decent album. My favourite of The Hold Steady so far, but I've got some catching up to do and certainly second album 'Separation Sunday' sounded very promising the other day. For now I go with Teeth dreams though.


You can listen to 'I hope this whole thing didn't frighten you' here.

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