The new, dual-axe version of The Hold Steady sound Thin Lizzy-tough on the first taste of their new album, Teeth Dreams, out on the bands own Positive Jams label on March 25 (US)/April 1 (UK). Recorded in Franklin, Tennessee rather than their usual Brooklyn stomping ground, the band’s sixth album is their first to feature additional guitarist Steve Selvidge, himself from Memphis, backing up co-founder Tab Kubler.
The band’s first recording outside of New York it may be, but the polymath rock thrills and Craig Finn’s verbose but tender lyrical bluster and seedy urban tableaux sound reassuringly familiar.
The narrator of I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You has some explaining to do after a run-in with some murky drug types on a trip home for Christmas. “It was a side of the city I didn’t want you to see,” he admits. “It’s just these cats that I know, we go back pretty deep.” He’s squirming now, voice full of contrition, and yet the swaggering guitars tell a slightly different story.
It’s a plea to put the past behind us, while acknowledging how our mistakes shape our present. Redolent, perhaps, of Finn’s own adolescent adventures in mid-’80s Minneapolis. Boisterous, punk rock delight tempered by self-doubt. “I hope this whole thing didn’t frighten you,” Finn hopes, with characteristic open-palmed sincerity. “There were times that terrified me...”
The Hold Steady start a string of US dates on Wednesday in Memphis, culminating in a 10th anniversary show at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg on February 7. The boys are back in town, so to speak.