Teeth Dreams by The Hold Steady (Album of the Week)

The-Hold-Steady-Teeth-Dreams

Album: Teeth Dreams

Artist: The Hold Steady

Year: 2014

Details: 10 songs;  49 minutes

Who’s Choice: Gone Mild

After the turbulence of the last two weeks where Dan and I have solidly disagreed, peace is again restored to the household via the raucousness of The Hold Steady. Over at Gone Mild, Dan writes about Hold Steady’s ability to combine rock and roll with thoughtful lyrics. I agree wholeheartedly!

If you know The Hold Steady, you know this album. Craig Finn, the lead singer of the band, still has a Springsteen-esque quality to his vocal, but he is definitely his own man. This is gross, but he has a style of singing where you can hear that there is a great deal of spit that flies out of his mouth when he is shouting the lyrics. 

I didn’t particularly like the actual production sound of this album. I thought it came through muddy, and it was hard to pick out lyrics unless I listened on headphones. Maybe that was intentional, but I wished for clearer tracks. 

The subject matter of the album is familiar territory: bad decisions, bad relationships, hard times. Craig Finn’s songworld is not sunny. The first song of the album is “I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You.” Yeah, many of the things he writes about would scare the crap out of me.

We had our annual poetry book club this week. Once a year, rather than reading a book, we all come prepared with one or more poems that we like. We take turns reading them. I have brought song lyrics in the past and this year, someone brought only song lyrics. Craig Finn warrants a whole night of being read. Craig Finn writes poetry that is put to music that doesn’t necessarily sound poetry-like. The music is grungy; the words can be stunning. 

Let me take just the last song, “Oaks,” which is perhaps my favorite. At just over nine minutes, this is the longest of the album’s offerings by a lot. It is like a rock opera in one song. It’s instrumentation is more in the power ballad genre, and there are some quiet runs that contrast effectively with the chorus of electric guitars that finish it and the album out. Finn-ish like, we have a name to work with: Sarah – who he thinks is still so beautiful, but she cannot see herself. There is depression, with days that can’t be completed. You have references to other pop culture – in this case, House of Balloons which is a dreamy R&B/electronic album by a Canadian singer who performs as The Weekend. There are drug deals that don’t and do happen. And so many beautiful metaphors. 

There were days from last week

I couldn’t quite complete.

Skipped ahead to the next afternoon.

Sweat through the sheets.

Slept in my shoes.

Hung around with the House of Balloons.

Keep the speed steady.

Hold the wheel straight.

We scratch and we scrape.

We’re scared then we’re brave.

The kids on the corner making eyes at the cars.

If you want to be saved, all it takes is a wave.

There were kids at the car wash

That said they could get it.

Gave them half but they never came back.

Drove by so slowly

It felt like we’re floating

An inflatable raft.

Our bodies are stoplights.

Our minds are the streets.

We scratch and we scrape.

We’re scared then we’re brave.

The kids on the corner making eyes at the cars.

If you want to be saved, all it takes is a wave.

Sarah I still think that you are so beautiful.

I’m sorry that you don’t feel the same way as me.

We spent so much time in this town driving slowly.

We spent so much money on things that didn’t stay.

So call for a taxi. Slide into the backseat.

It rolls like a glass bottomed boat.

The kids on the corner when they reach in the window

Their arms look like limbs from an oak.

Keep the speed steady. Hold the wheel straight.

I swear I feel each little sway.

Our minds are the windows.

Our bodies are screens.

We scratch

We scrape.

And we dream.

We dream of the limbs of the trees.

We dream of the views from the boats.

Of mountains all covered in oaks.

And we hope.

As we hang from the limbs of the trees.

We cling to the rails of the boats.

The mountains all covered in oaks.

And we dream.

We dream of the limbs of the trees.

We dream of the views from the boats.

Of mountains all covered in oaks.

And we hope.

As we hang from the limbs of the trees.

We cling to the rails on the boats.

The trees as they turn into smoke.

The trees they turn slowly to smoke.

That is good. Thanks for the choice, Dan!

Next up: Morning Phase by Beck

Beck_Morning_Phase

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One thought on “Teeth Dreams by The Hold Steady (Album of the Week)

  1. Pingback: Teeth Dreams, by The Hold Steady (Album of the Week) « Gone Mild

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