The Hold Steady & Wintersleep

Highly Recommended
Royale - Weds 10/6/10

Mark Seliger photo

The Hold Steady profile
by Emma Dessau

It was hard to admit that Heaven is Whenever, the most recent Hold Steady album, did not quite knock my socks off. It has its moments, like the line in “The Weekenders”... “She said the theme of this party's the industrial age/and you came in dressed like a train wreck.” Or the overall message of “We Can Get Together,” because heaven is whenever we can get together, sit down on your floor and listen to your records. But overall, when I think of my favorite band, their older albums Separation Sunday and, of course, Boys and Girls in America remain the true gems of their catalogue.

However, even if I couldn’t find anything on Heaven is Whenever to like, I’d still be going to their show at the Royale on Wednesday. I am confident that even without Franz Nicolay on piano, Craig Finn and the gang will make Royale’s clubby vibe into the menacing dive bar, back alley, unfinished basement epic mess it should be.

If you’ve never seen The Hold Steady live, don’t miss them. If you have, come see them again... but only if you like to party on the problem blocks and can’t stand it when the banging stops.

The Hold Steady
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Photos: Wintersleep in Boston - 6/5/10
5342 Studios photo

Wintersleep profile
by Ryan Spaulding

Editor's Note: Wednesday in Boston is the only remaining Hold Steady/Wintersleep bill on this tour with tickets still remaining.

I know that Emma and a whole lot of other people will disagree with me - but the better act here (for me anyway) is Wintersleep. Let me make my case. Wintersleep are a sleepy little Canadian act who make emotive, soul stirring music and every now and again they rock listeners to the core.

Prior to 2007 the band had two immensely strong, ethereal albums. In typical understated fashion, those two initial records had no title. (Prior to the band getting as big as they are today, you can imagine how difficult it was to find these albums in the US. What's the name? I loved these a great deal and they won the pluralized hearts of Wintersleep's countrymen prior to the band emerging with the critically acclaimed Welcome to the Night Sky. This is the album that won Wintersleep the coveted Juno award and saw them added to so many music festival lineups. (You should own this one.) The record was written and recorded with signature bassist Jud Haynes - whose work was key on the earlier albums. Haynes, who did not tour on the Night Sky tour, left music shortly thereafter - but just before he did, I interviewed him. (I believe he is working as an architect these days.)

Moving forward to toady, the band is playing their best music to date. That's partially due to the fact that New Inheritors (the latest album) was the product of touring. The band, who are tighter than ever before, wrote and recorded the song as a natural outgrowth of the live experience. The songs were sewn into the repertoire and they work on, oh so, many levels. It would be easy to dismiss them as just another of an endless line of imported bands - this is not the case here.

Wintersleep are one of the best live bands going these days. Do not sell yourself short, do not arrive late for this one - both would be mistakes.

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