September 7, 2005

The Band's Tight

On the way into work this morning, I spied a rather odd bumper sticker. It's message was simple - "Love me. Love my goats." What do you suppose that means? Ponder that for a while while I move on to music.

The Hold Steady: Separation Sunday
The other day on NPR, I heard a story about The Hold Steady. I'd listened to clips on iTunes but hadn't been all that impressed. Of course, you can't really tell where a band is coming from in 30-second morsels. Anyway, back to being impressed. When I got home, I downloaded the album and was almost immediately happy I had. How to define the sound...

Picture, if you will, a great bar fight. Heavily-tattooed, Harley-riding, leather-wearing guy number one has just cracked moderately-tattooed, long-haired hippy guy over the head with a broken beer bottle while his two buddies armed with pool cues are going after two drunk former jocks who called into question the virtue of Harley-riding guy's mom. The Hold Steady's Separation Sunday would be the album blaring on the jukebox. But there's a catch.

The guitars are loud and crunchy. Think about the more raucous periods in Aerosmith, Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin history. Throw in a little AC/DC for good measure. Drums are solid and absolutely bombastic. Booming bass-work rounds out the steady, solid rhythm section. Vocalist Craig Finn talks to the music but rarely sings. His voice is ragged. He sounds like a poet wailing on a soapbox on a busy street corner. But listen to what he's saying.

The bar-fight soundtrack is only the first, most accessible layer of Separation Sunday. Listen closer and you'll realize Separation Sunday is a highly literate album. Instead of being about actual bar-fights or loose women, Separation Sunday tells the story of one person's struggle with addiction and Catholocism in suburban Minneapolis. Not your standard hard rock fare. A few lines from Chicago Seemed Tired Tonight sum it up well:

we gather our gospels from gossip and bar talk then declare them the truth. we salvage our sermons from message boards and scene reports. we come on to the youth. we try out new testements on the guys sitting next to us in the bars with the bars in their windows. even if you don't get converted tonite you must admit that the band's pretty tight.

The Hold Steady have truly produced a fantastic piece of music. It's brash, loud, exuberant and incredibly intelligent. What more could you ask for? Except for more cowbell, of course.

Other Stuff:
Our Lady Peace released the aptly titled Healthy in Paranoid Times recently. I wasn't taken with their previous two efforts but this one burrowed into my brain and set up camp. It's been in heavy rotation on the iPod. It's not album-of-the-year material but it's solid and catchy. All-American Rejects' Move Along is similarly catchy. They improve and expand upon the formula they laid out with their debut and there's almost no better song on the airwaves this summer than the album's title track. Also notable is Michael Penn's Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947. Concept albums seem to run in the family - Penn's wife, Aimee Mann, released The Forgotten Arm earlier in the year. Both are similar in sound and both deserve a listen.

Now, have you come to any conclusions about that bumper sticker?

Posted by Chris at September 7, 2005 6:35 AM

i just had to google this phrase. apparently your mystery bumper sticker is sort of a motto, if you will, for goat-lovers everywhere. i saw the saying frequently here, and you can even find lots of "love me. love my goats." merchandise here.

not to steal your thunder or anything.

but as a goat lover i had to know.

Posted by: misifoota at September 7, 2005 7:08 AM

You just can't go past a good goat, I always say. There's a lot of lines there about horny and butts...but I shall refrain from lowering the tone of this esteemed blog.


Posted by: DaFFy at September 7, 2005 7:24 AM

I will definitely have to give a listen to the music you recommended, though I do not have your diagnostic ear.

On the goat sticker. It just reminds me of the Ned Beatty/pig thing in Deliverance. ew.

Posted by: angela marie at September 7, 2005 7:46 AM

If you liked that, here's a way to show the love outside of the car:

Hope that link shows up correctly -- you never know what the goat lovers in your comment section will like :)

Posted by: Laura GF at September 7, 2005 8:04 AM

Maybe he's a shepherd in search of the perfect woman?

Posted by: Queen of Ass at September 7, 2005 8:08 AM

i adore goats. i suppose "love me. love my goats." is better than "love me. love me like a goat."


Posted by: monique at September 7, 2005 8:23 AM

or "me love goats long time" :P

as for the music, i'm mad at all-american rejects because they decided to exploit the hell out of and i just don't dig how they seem to be throwing others' well planned secrets around like no big deal. perhaps i'm being sensitive but love my goats anyway.

Posted by: kate at September 7, 2005 8:38 AM

I'll check these out within the week. As a return favour may I recommend three acts that you probably already know and love...?

Antony and the Johnsons : I Am A Bird Now
Mercury award winner and simply amazingly different and smart.

Soundtrack of our Lives : Origin
All the old bands you love rolled into a new one.

The Mars Volta: Frances the Mute
Indescribable except to say "pure magic".

Posted by: zeno at September 7, 2005 9:17 AM

More cowbell!

Posted by: Heather at September 7, 2005 9:40 AM

I don't know nothing about no goats! But..."Love me. Love my blog." should be YOUR new bumper sticker. You could raise money for charity! I would buy one.

I am seriously music-deprived, having almost no disposable income except what gets spent on Pumpkin Spice Crack, I mean Lattes, at Starbucks. I did however just pick up Plans by Death Cab for Cutie. I happen to love it and I happen to be a 36-year old woman with a serious crush on Ben Gibbard. What's up with that?! I highly suggest you get it if you haven't already. It's a great fall-time, driving nowhere in particular with your sweetie kind of album. *swoon*

Posted by: Ms. Q at September 7, 2005 9:50 AM

Kinda like my favorite website:

Some people are just really into their animals..

Posted by: HipMamaB at September 7, 2005 10:37 AM

You know, we saw that bumper sticker too a couple weeks ago. I wonder if it was the same car....

Posted by: Autumn at September 7, 2005 10:44 AM

i love that you go ahead and buy an album that you are not impressed with. you are SUCH an addict.

Posted by: jodi at September 7, 2005 11:04 AM

Your music knowledge is scary at times...

I thought the bumper sticker was in reference to an 90's rock rap group called "The Goats" (possibly the worst band ever)

Posted by: Lee at September 7, 2005 11:56 AM

Thanks for the tip on The Hold Steady. Great description, who wouldn't check them out after that? I downloaded the two freebies from their website just now. I love straight ahead rock bands, but I also love great lyrics. I agree that they have that combo. I also like the hint of "Elvis Costello meets Lou Reed" in the vocals too.

Posted by: Mayberry at September 7, 2005 12:10 PM

I've actually found some great musicians through NPR clips. Not always the place I'd expect to.

Posted by: A.K. at September 7, 2005 4:13 PM

don't have a clue about the bumper sticker, but my very first pet was a Billy Goat -- pretty much because I was the only one brave (read STUPID) enough to go anywhere near it

Posted by: Kathryn at September 7, 2005 5:04 PM

Forget the bumper sticker -- anything to do with goats doesn't interest me. (Sorry.) My mind instantly goes into the gutter with them. (Not from my own experience, thankyouverymuch.)

As for The Hold Steady, due to your impressive ability to accurately (I'm assuming, based on your past descriptions) describe a band's sound, I'll be downloading their album as soon as my new 'puter arrives. (I'd download it now, but it will immediately disappear and I'll have wasted my money!) Thanks for the music advice!

Posted by: at September 7, 2005 5:13 PM

That last post ^^^ was mine! Damn screwy bad 'puter! Can't wait for the new one to arrive!!!

Posted by: ironic1 at September 7, 2005 5:14 PM

I'm sure the rest of your post was scintillating. I don't know for sure though, as I never got past "Love me. Love my goats." Thanks a pantload, man.


Posted by: sawni at September 7, 2005 6:29 PM