The Hold Steady - Teeth Dreams

The Hold Steady are about to return with Teeth Dreams, their first album since 2010′s Heaven Is Whenever, and now the band has shared “I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You,” the album’s first single. It’s a very big, very produced rock song, a long way from the word-splurge bar-rock of the band’s early days. Craig Finn is still kicking wild-eyed sketch-centric lyrics, but he continues to sound more like a singer and less like a ranter. Talking to Rolling Stone about the new album, Finn says, “We were looking to make a big rock record. Maybe it’s less wild but in some ways that makes it a bigger record.” You can hear that in the song, which is streaming below.


(via Rolling Stone)

Teeth Dreams is out 3/25 on Washington Square.

Comments (30)
  1. Heaven Is Whenever had some bright spots on it, but for the most part, signaled it was time for them to move in a different direction. This is very promising and exceeded my expectations. If they had come back with another round of bar rock, I’d probably be less interested in hearing the rest of it.

    • I agree completely. I’m a huge Hold Steady fan and was totally bored by Heaven Is Whenever. I love this song and most of the new album, and while this style of production might not seem to be the most natural choice for them, I think it works largely because they really had to make a change just to keep things fresh. This approach shifts the focus of the band’s sound pretty adeptly, in that everything that makes them unique and great is still here, yet the hooks are at the fore and Craig is deeper in the mix (and sounds like he’s sing-singing rather than talk-singing). I expect a lot of people will feel a bit put off by the slickness but frankly I think they made a bold and successful decision. No it’s not Boys And Girls In America, but no matter what they did, it wasn’t going to be Boys And Girls In America, and I’m glad they’re trying something new rather than trying to recreate something old.

      • Exactamente. I’m one of the rare listeners out there who isn’t put off when a band makes the leap into higher grade studio production, especially after it’s been established that they have the rock chops to do so. It actually tends to favor the Springsteen-esque bands better (the Gaslight Anthem, for example, and in a perfect world, the National would have done so by now.) The only risk to it is that there’s no going back, but I’d rather a risk that fails rather than more of the same.

      • “I love this song and most of the new album” – very glad to hear this, especially in light of your comment about Heaven Is Whenever (which I actually liked more than most people did, but would still agree was their weakest album to date). I’m not put off by the production either, slickness doesn’t bother me as long as the songs are good (see also: the last few Against Me! albums). I’d say this song is just good, not great, but I’m still really looking forward to hearing the whole album.

      • So… you’ve heard the new album?

        • Yeah I got an advance copy a week or so ago. I haven’t listened closely enough to have nuanced opinions on individual songs but on the whole I’m really enjoying it.

  2. aside from the processed craig chorus (that’s a new hold steady thing, and i don’t like it), it’s not bad. definitely more ranty than singy, especially compared to most of the songs on heaven is whenever, but it’s not really making me excited for the new record. i’m not taking that as a good sign.

    one of the things that bums me out the most about heaven is a severe lack of shout-along choruses that the hold steady KNOWS is one of their many strengths. i hope there’s at least a couple on the new record.

    • yeah man. Good call, the processed chorus makes it sound like soundgarden or foo fighters.

      This seems like a good song but its just over produced.

      • That also nails it for me – it sounds like a Hold Steady song with production straight off of The Colour and the Shape. I dig it for them actually.

        Although Tommy B – he sounds more like a singer than a ranter on this track ?

    • what I don’t get is with this band and, for instance, The Pixies or Modest Mouse, is that they used to be OK with having a slightly rougher sound that I think, and most people seem to agree, rock music really needs. So why do older bands seem to gravitate towards this weird, beer-commercial style production as they age? Is it because it sells more or because they become deluded that it sounds good? Or their tinnitus makes them think it sounds better?

      • it’s probably to grab a bigger audience, for which i can’t blame them. i’ve tried to get friends into ths in the past to no avail, and the number one complaint i’ve heard is that they can’t get past craig’s stilted storytelling rants. i personally think it’s the one attribute that set them apart and made them so wonderful in the first place. the rest of the crew, sans franz, always sounded like every other alt-rock band, but they definitely had better riffs and an insane penchant for melody.

        frankly, i haven’t heard much since stay positive that had both that tight songwriting and craig’s signature vocals. i can deal with his newfound love of trying to sing, but there’s something sadly very off with the rest of the band, as if they’re struggling to craft anything catchy. so when i hear heaven is whenever, clear eyes full heart, and now this, i can’t help but wonder why craig insists on this new direction. you can’t pour a couple layers of gloss over an average song, and simulaneously make new fans and appease the old.

      • tdc  |   Posted on Jan 26th -1

        Maybe it’s because that underproduced sound that some fans think of as “raw” or exciting was just a product of necessity and circumstance, not a calculated aesthetic choice to be gritty, and after making a bunch of quick-and-dirty records because that’s all you can do, if you finally get the chance to make a record with the BIG SOUND of course you jump at it?

        • Yeah but its a shame, in my opinion modern production really tends to suck the soul out of most recordings. Good examples of hi-fi but still interesting production, to me, is Walkmen’s Heaven, Spoon’s Gagagagaga, Grizzly Bear Shields. The problem with this for me, is that the production decisions are very standard alt-rock. Don’t get me wrong, I still like it. Its a sweet tune. But its just a shame, for me, that they went for this production and it seems to be a knee jerk reaction by some bands to adopt this over-compressed, too effects-laden, sort of cheesy production. There’s like no space to breath in it. Its like its too loud even when i turn it down quiet.

        • i think you could make that argument for a lot of other bands starting out, but even almost killed me sound pretty professionally produced. this, to me at least, is the sound of a band tinkering to the point of breaking something that worked in the first place. the sound mix of craig’s vocals vs. instruments they had for the first four albums was pretty definitive for this band.

  3. I missed THS. This song sounds a lot like their other songs, but that’s fine by me. The Hold Steady will always be The Hold Steady – nothing more, nothing less.

  4. Kinda sounds like Craig Finn fronting Night Ranger. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking; I’ve long hoped the indie world would embrace the classic sounds of Night Ranger, if just for a few years. Ideally, bands would eventually outgrow nightrangercore and move toward a more sophisticated Damn Yankees-indebted style. Here’s hoping the Hold Steady kick start that Hegelian process with this new album.

  5. As a long time Hold Steady fan, I have mixed feelings on the production here (though I wouldn’t call it “beer commercial”…what does that even mean? I’m trying to remember beer commercials and all I can think of is a sweet Budweiser one where they put a Los Campesinos track over footage of a baseball stadium getting ready for game day), but overall I like it. The chorus annoys me a bit, but that bridge is killer. And a whole song about the Skins? I know that some people are annoyed by the self-referential nature of THS songs, but I love it. Their whole discography feels like a mythology, and anytime that gets more fleshed out is a good day for me.

  6. I like the song. I like the big drum and guitar sounds. I loathe those layered/processed vocals on the chorus. Finn’s vocals are one of the defining elements of the band. Why would anyone want to muddy them up like this?

  7. I like this song and – Shyamalan twist – don’t think it sounds drastically different from a number of tracks on Stay Positive. Sure, there’s a bit of singing, but most of it is CF’s signature rant-storyteller-singing, which I dig.

  8. Call me fucking crazy, but I really loved Heaven Is Whenever. Not a certified classic like Boys and Girls, but damn if that album didn’t bore it’s way into my brain. That being said I like the sound they’re going for with this album. I’m quite excited to hear it.

  9. I have no problem with them sounding a little ‘slicker’, but this sounds super compressed to me; maybe that’s just the stream quality though.

  10. Boys and Girls was good, Separation Sunday and Almost Killed Me were great, id’d say everything else has been mediocre, sad to say but might be time to call it a day and look to do other things… this new one? there’s nothing there…

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