Manic Productions Presents
The Hold Steady
Fang Island, Mount Carmel
85 Arch Street
Hartford, CT, 06103
The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady is a Brooklyn-based rock band formed by vocalist/guitarist Craig Finn (ex-Lifter Puller) in 2004. Wanting to capture the sound of bands such as The Replacements and The Grifters, he recruited guitarist Tad Kubler (also ex-Lifter Puller), drummer Judd Counsell, and bassist Galen Polivka. In 2005 the band grew to include Franz Nicolay (of The World/Inferno Friendship Society) on keyboards and Bobby Drake took over on drums following Counsell's departure.
Recording mostly live, the band released its debut, Almost Killed Me, on French Kiss Records in March 2004 and Separation Sunday a year later. In April 2006 the band signed to Vagrant Records and entered the studio on the 1st of May to begin work on their third record, Boys And Girls In America. Released in October, it was one of the most critically acclaimed records of 2006 and reached a much larger audience than its predecessors.
The band released their fourth album, Stay Positive, recorded again with Boys And Girls In America producer John Agnello. Nicolay left the group and on May 4, 2010 the band released their fifth studio album, Heaven Is Whenever, recorded with producer Dean Baltulonis.
On July 15, 2008, Stay Positive was released. It debuted at #30 on the Billboard 200. It debuted on the UK Album Chart at #15 on July 20, the third-highest new entry. It ranked #1 on the UK Indie Chart. The album was named the best of 2008 by Entertainment Weekly. The song "Constructive Summer" was number 56 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2008.
"Honest, life-affirming and infectious, and it's that rare concentration of directness and simplicity that makes Fang Island so uniquely and wonderfully inclusive." Best New Music -- Pitchfork
"Fang Island are simply killer fun, a proper gang who sing collectively and pummel their guitars without recourse to errant soloing." Four Stars -- MOJO
FANG ISLAND - MAJOR
Brooklyn's beloved guitar-anthem optimists Fang Island return with an album befitting its title: Major.
Like the painstakingly chiseled marble of the album artwork, Major is hefty, solid, monolithic and regal. Whereas Fang Island described their celebrated 2010 self-titled Sargent House debut as, "everyone high-fiving everyone," Major is evermore confident, triumphant and brimming with infectious enthusiasm. Its warm harmonies are given proper berth with more expansive dynamics and focused pop song craft.
"One of our core ideas has always been that our songs would be all of your favorite parts of the song that other bands make you wait 8 minutes to get to," explains guitarist/vocalist Jason Bartell. "We wanted to be the band that's nothing but your favorite hooks back to back." Major shows Fang Island deftly achieving that aim.
Kicking off with the overlapping neoclassical piano pirouette and chiming harmonized guitars of album opener "Kindergarten", Fang Island makes it clear from the outset that this is an album of musical and sonic growth, while at the same time a chorus of voices repeat the mantra, "all I know/ I learned in / kindergarten." It's that same unabashed embracing of childlike wonder filtered through visionary artistic sophistication that gives Fang Island its unique charm and sets the tone for this (ahem) major step forward for Bartell, guitarist/vocalist Chris Georges and drummer Marc St. Sauveur. Without a moment's rest, the definitive summer pop jam "Sisterly" launches the album skyward, led by the thick hook of a wah-wah pedal "chunka-chunka-chunka" riff that's guaranteed to have listeners busting out their air guitar moves. "Never Understand" revisits the classic Fang Island guitar harmony dogpile while what sounds like a cheery mob repeatedly intones, "I hope I never understand." Elsewhere, the rollicking anthem "Asunder" quickly builds momentum like a rolling snowball that eventually careens into a summertime BBQ -- the explosive payoff as the elements collide is pure pop bliss.
Throughout, Major highlights the band's endeavor to elevate positivity as an art form. "It's kind of similar to writing songs about being sad," Bartell says. "It can come across as simplistic, or easy. Positive songs often run the risk of sounding shallow, but we feel there are a lot of shades and depths to positivity that can be explored." That exploration becomes clear from the first notes of Major.
However, Georges sums up the album's bold steps best in this short sampling of the band's nearly 1,000 bullet point explanation of the album title:
"Some reasons we called the album Major:
- Major key (the first song is minor though!)
- Valley girl colloquialism?
- Because we are on an independent label
- Because the rank under Sargent (House) is major
- It sounds like a constellation
- Steely Dan's "Any Major Dude" was in rotation a lot during the sessions
- The record is packaged to look like stone because it's ROCK. I really wanted people to hold a piece of rock when they picked up the record."
Major will be available everywhere on LP, CD and download via Sargent House on July 24th, 2012.
Columbus, Ohio power-blues trio Mount Carmel have produced another nugget of early-70s rock for your listening enjoyment, and its name is Real Women. Out now on Siltbreeze, the album by the difficult-to-Google group is a straightforward collection of tunes that sound like they could have been put to record four decades ago. Or just this past year, as is actually the case!
The band's first album since their 2010 self-titled release, Real Women makes you want to put on your bell-bottomed jeans, grow your hair out and part it down the middle like any good, rock-loving white person of your parents' generation. Take a trip back in time without all the hassle of accidentally having sex with your mom/dad by checking out the new album, lighting some incense and partaking in your libation of choice.
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