Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Hurricane J” by The Hold Steady from their 2010 full-length album, Heaven Is Whenever on Vagrant Records.
Brooklyn based The Hold Steady bandmates Tad Kubler and Craig Finn first made waves in a group from Minneapolis called Lifter Puller. When they made the move to Brooklyn, The Hold Steady came to be, seemingly on a lark, playing in a band for the sake of fun and as an outlet to indulge in their classic rock influences. With Kubler and Finn on guitar, Galen Polivka on bass, and Bobby Drake on drums, Heaven is Whenever is the band’s 5th studio album, released just last week.
On Heaven is Whenever, the group is sans keyboardist Franz Nicolay, a move that might seem divisive among fans, but brings focus to the lyrics and is leaden with guitar riffs. Some of the characters of the past albums make a comeback here, creating an even greater sense of community and gives merit to Finn’s impeccable storytelling capabilities. “Hurricane J” is a working class rock narrative, anthemic and loud, with just as fist pumping enthusiasm as the past Hold Steady favorites. Finn’s lyrics are brutally honest, “Forget everything that I showed you this summer. You’re too hard already, you’ll only get harder” and driven by a muscle car of guitar riffs. The backing vocals keep the dynamic songwriting sweeping throughout in a storytelling anthem that brings to mind a world of waitresses, American dive bars, and Bruce Springsteen.
Between summertime festivals and headlining performances, The Hold Steady are on a nonstop tour de force throughout the US and Europe. Head over to their MySpace page and website for a complete list. They’ll be at Sasquatch Music Festival next weekend for those of you lucky enough to have tickets. While you wait for them to come around to your town, check out their performance of “The Weekenders” live on the Late Night with David Letterman: