#1 – The Hold Steady: Boys and Girls in America
What can I say? It’s the year of The Hold Steady. It’s pretty amazing that last year’s Separation Sunday made my top five and now, Boys and Girls in America is my best album of 2006 (questionable cover art aside). All my minor quibbles with the last album have been addressed. Boys and Girls in America, named for a Jack Kerouac quote, is much tighter than any album the band has made to date, but it still keeps its expansive flavor. Epic rock songs if you will.
From the rocking "Stuck Between Stations," a song that seems to depict many 30 somethings I Know all too well, to the more conventional closing number, "Southtown Girls," there’s not a single dud on this album. And all the songs seem to go back to the source of the albums name: “boys and girls in America have such a sad time together.”
When everyone else seems to be looking at the 80’s as their inspiration, The Hold Steady unapologetically gets their chops straight from the mid-70’s. And it works very well. There ain’t no keyboards here—just an organ. I really can’t say enough about this album.
Of course, their tremendous live show helped their cause. Unfortunately, I didn’t heed Craig Finn’s advice and call in sick the next day.
NP: "Manta Ray" - The Pixies