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Showing posts from October, 2006

132. The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls In America (2006)

The Hold Steady are not a band everyone is going to like.

Musically their sound - pristine piano runs, wide open guitar riffs - is as populist as rock 'n' roll gets. Vocally, well, that's where the problem comes in. No one will ever mistake Craig Finn for a talented singer. As my buddy John astutely observed, "He sounds like Randy Newman on crank."

The band's first two albums concerned the hard-partying and salvation-seeking exploits of three characters, Charlamagne, Gideon and Holly. The songs rarely had choruses; the lyrics flew at you like you were Tippi Hedren. As Finn explained in an interview last year, he had so much to say that repeating himself hardly seemed worth it.

On the excellent Boys And Girls In America (named after a line in Kerouac's On The Road), that's all changed. Sure, Finn still sounds like a man ranting on a street corner, but he has freed himself from his characters, and found joy in repetition.

He takes advantage of it righ…

131. Scissor Sisters - Ta-Dah (2006)

What's wrong with America?!

Sorry, that's kind of a broad question. I'm specifically referring to the fact that our pop music consumption is seriously low on fun.

I've written before about how we've unjustly turned away poor Robbie Williams. Kylie Minogue only gets American love once every 15 years, it seems. And then there are the Scissor Sisters, who, while being mostly ignored here in their own homeland, have become stars in the U.K.

Now the British charts can be a wacky place, so success there is not necessarily a banner of quality. But Scissor Sisters are far from a novelty act. Okay, so they use stage names and they dress like the Village People after a long hard night. And their lyrics, while funny and self-aware, are far from deep. None of that matters, because the band is deadly serious about creating perfect pop music, and they succeed more often than not.

The opener from their new album, I Don't Feel Like Dancin', could well become their signa…