The Hold Steady
Heaven Is Whenever
Minneapolis' finest return, and add to their credentials for being considered the USA's very best
There are plenty of people lining up to tell the world that The Hold Steady are as good a band as exists in the United States today, and it's easy to see why.
Breakthrough album Boys And Girls In America honed their imaginative and eloquent storytelling rock to perfection, and the comparisons with Springsteen were not mere hyperbole. If follow-up album Stay Positive delivered small progress, Heaven Is Whenever sees the band reach out into the heart of their homeland musically, marrying America's great country tradition with their Les Paul-fuelled rock.
That's not to say the band have moved away from what they do best, however, and The Smidge is classic Hold Steady with its spiky punk riffing and clever lyrics - it's just that here it's married to an expansive bridge that even hints at psychedelia.
Hurricane J is another jewel here that swings wildly from quiet melancholy to relentless energy as it tells a simple story of dreaming of escape. If the seemingly eternal E Street Band ever do call it a day, The Hold Steady are worthy of picking up their torch.
Standout tracks: The Switch, We Can Get Together, Hurricane J
For fans of: Bruce Springsteen, The Replacements, Hüsker Dü