3. The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday
I'm not really sure how to describe this ablum. Whereas many of the top albums of this year echo the best of the 80s all mashed together, The Hold Steady jump right over that. Instead, they seem to draw inspiration from the 70s, pre-disco, pre-punk. I'm thinking Chiliwack, Bad Company, and Foghat. That said, they don't sound like a 70s band. They merely take some of the better features of that music and integrate it.
Combine that with some of the smartest stories and interesting delivery that I've heard in a while, and you have one great album. Separation Sunday has an epic sweep to it. I can't decide if it's flirting with being a concept album or not, but all the songs seem to follow a sort of progression. This is one of those rare albums that really improves a lot when you listen to it in its entirety.
Separation Sunday has a number of standout tracks, including "Your Little Hoodrat FRiend," (which had me singing along on my long road trip last week), "Stevie Nicks," and the last track on the album, "How a Resurrection Really Feels."
NP: The Hold Steady - "Your Little Hoodrat Friend"