The Hold Steady – “Denver Haircut”

Five years ago, the Hold Steady released Teeth Dreams, their last album. That was the last time they functioned like a regular band. Since then, the great word-spewing Brooklyn rockers have switched things up. Where they once toured relentlessly, they now settle into a single city for a quick residency, playing a bunch of shows in one location. And where they once cranked out classic albums, they’ve been taking things easier, releasing a track or two at a time on Bandcamp.

The Hold Steady started that process in 2017, when they dropped “Entitlement Crew” and “A Snake In The Shower.” And they’ve done it a bunch more times since then; just a few months ago, they did it with “The Last Time That She Talked To Me.” That part-timer schedule has allowed them to keep going, and it’s let frontman Craig Finn keep making solo albums like this year’s I Need A New War. But now, finally, we’re getting another new Hold Steady album.

Today, the Hold Steady announced a new album: Thrashing Thru The Passion, set to come out this summer. But it’s not a regular album. Instead, it’s a fascinating sort of experiment. The album will feature 10 songs. Five of them are new, and five of them are songs that the Hold Steady have already released on Bandcamp. After spending time on big indies and working with big-time producers, they’re doing things their own way this time.

Along with the announcement, they’ve shared a new song, the album opener “Denver Haircut.” If you love the Hold Steady, a song like this will sound familiar. It’s a charged-up, inspirational rocker about people living on the edges of society, and it’s got some classic Craig Finn lyrics: “In five hours on the carpet, he visits six different planets / On a spaceship shaped like a Gibson Marauder / The pilot kinda looked like Kirk Hammett.” Below, listen to “Denver Haircut” and check out the new album’s tracklist and what Crain Finn has to say about the LP.

On the Hold Steady’s Bandcamp page, Craig Finn writes:

Just after the new year, we headed up to Woodstock to The Isokon studio to record some new songs. We were joined by Producer Josh Kaufman and Engineer D. James Goodwin, who have helped us record everything we’ve done for the past few years.

It was a highly productive session, we pretty much just set up and cranked through the songs. The songs came together quickly and we were psyched on how they sounded. Overdubs happened back in Brooklyn, with our friends Stuart Bogie and Jordan McLean adding horns and Annie Nero doing some backup vocals.

We thought “Denver Haircut” sounded like the first track on a record. “Blackout Sam” sounded like it should close an album side. In fact, these five songs together sounded like a cool A side of an album. So, after D. James Goodwin mixed the songs, we decided to put them together with some of our favorite songs we’d recorded in the past few years and make it an album. We pondered a track list for a bit, had our friend Dave Gardner master it, and here it is. We call it Thrashing Thru The Passion, which is taken from a line on “You Did Good Kid”.

I’ve remarked for a while now that this six- piece lineup of THS is the best we’ve ever had. It’s not really even negotiable. And fifteen years in, I believe that we are making some of our very best music. We’ve come to a place that feels both fun and vital. When I listen to these songs, I feel a sense of joyfulness – I hear friendship, community, positivity and a love of rock and roll music. This band has changed all of our lives, and it continues to make changes. Good ones.

A lot of things have changed since we started in 2003. We’ve changed the way we approach touring, opting for multi show weekends in bigger cities rather than the skullduggery of month long slogs. This is more realistic for where we are at now, and we’ve also found it to make the band much more musical. More of our time together is spent playing and performing music than setting up and taking down gear, driving it to the next place, setting it up again. Also, these runs of shows have reinforced what an amazing community exists around this band, and how it keeps growing. All in all, making this change to the way we approach shows has given a new life to the band.

We’ve also made changes in how we release music. In late 2017, we dropped “Entitlement Crew” and “A Snake in the Shower” as a surprise before our second annual Massive Nights run at the Brooklyn Bowl. We made it available on Bandcamp, with a suggested donation that raised money for a charity. We’ve repeated that a number of times now, dropping these digital singles just before a run of shows. It’s been fun to release music this way, it feels almost like a new episode of a serial. It also allowed us to escape some of the promotional obligations that come with releasing a full LP. In short, it keeps things exciting and fresh.

This time, with Thrashing Thru The Passion, we have released an album with five new songs and five that have been previously released digitally. That felt right this time. We can’t say what we will do next time, but with the recording industry where it is in 2019, it feels wide open. We will continue to take the advice Paul Stanley offered on the classic Kiss song, “Room Service”, and do what we feel.

We are very proud to present Thrashing Thru The Passion. We are lucky and honored to have such a great community around this band, and we appreciate you being a part of it.

Thanks for listening. Thanks for understanding.

Stay Positive.

THS

TRACKLIST:
01 “Denver Haircut”
02 “Epaulets”
03 “You Did Good Kid”
04 “Traditional Village”
05 “Blackout Sam”
06 “Entitlement Crew”
07 “T-Shirt Tux”
08 “Star 18″
09 “The Stove & The Toaster”
10 “Confusion In The Marketplace”

Thrashing Thru The Passion is out 8/16, and you can pre-order it at Bandcamp or the Hold Steady’s online store.