Vinyl Vlog 502

Vinyl Vlog 502

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Monday, 24 May 2021
COLUMN

The Hold Steady
Open Door Policy

Thank god for this album, folks. Thank GOD!

I think I’ve said this before, but the Hold Steady are one of those bands that suffers from Monty Python syndrome, in the sense that it’s good, but the most annoying people in the world will not shut the fuck about it. Have you met a Hold Steady fan? If you’re not sure, then you haven’t. The real Hold Steady fans are annoying as hell. As such, it’s hard to really enjoy a band that others have elevated to such a god-like stature (“The Hold Steady ruined music for me, because nothing else compares to them” is an actual quote, guys). The thing about the Hold Steady is that they’re a good band. They really are. It’s just that, just like any band with a long career, they have good songs and band, and – GASP – they have good ALBUMS and bad ones. For a good Hold Steady album, Separation Sunday is a good an album as any. For a bad album, look at Heaven is Whenever. Their album before it “Stay Positive” might have birthed them a logo (a + sign modified to also look like an infinity symbol), but it’s also maybe the last great Hold Steady Album. But this band perseveres no matter what. Now Open Door Policy, their “quarantine album,” has come along, and much to everyone’s relief, it’s REALLY good.

It’s hard to say what exactly makes Open Door Policy stand out so much. The overpolishedess plaguing their previous effort is still present (like singer Craig Finn’s spacey effervescent vocals). Maybe it’s the band writing harded songs again (instead of the ballady Heaven is Whenever). Whatever the case, the songs on Open Door Polcy start off slow, then just rock, and quite honestly, I haven’t heard a Hold Steady album that keeps picking up steam like this one. From the song “Feelers” straight through the ballad “Family Farm” and the awesome back to back wonders of “Prior Procedure” and “Riptown”  one has to admit this might be the most consistently good Hold Steady album. Maybe it’s because Franz is back? And for a band that has been around for so long, it’s always easy to jadedly point to the old material when someone asks you where they should start if they want to get into the Hold Steady. Fuck that, man, you can start right here!

The vinyl edition is very very cool. The photograph cover looks beautiful in 12” format, on orange vinyl (though there are other versions), on a single record, because this album is surprisingly short. Or maybe it’s just so good, it’s over before you know it. Keeping it classy, guys!

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