The Hold Steady have announced a 10th anniversary reissue of their 2010 album Heaven Is Whenever, and with it comes the usual assortment of bonus material. Yes, that means there’s previously unreleased material. “Separate Vacations,” out today along with the news of the reissue, has been performed live before but never released in its pristine studio form. It’s a cascading midtempo rock track that moves with the beaten-down grace that defined that era of the band.
In addition to nine rare or unreleased songs, the reissue includes liner notes by Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers. On Facebook, the Hold Steady shared this message about it all:
Everyone seems to have an opinion about our fifth album, Heaven is Whenever. Ten years later, going over these songs for this reissue, we’ve taken on a great new appreciation for this collection. With some distance, it seems we were trying to get somewhere else, and this was a necessary transition record. The songs are weary, but with a dark humor. It might even be the funniest Hold Steady LP, although it’s sometimes hard to tell because it doesn’t convey the same ecstatic joy as some of the earlier records.
For the 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition, Heaven is Whenever includes nine bonus tracks that tell the story of the time it was made. We were chasing something that was mostly undefined, and we kept making more and more music. We recorded stuff we forgot about like “Wonderful Struggle”, stuff we’ve played live but never released, like “Separate Vacations”, and even an alternate version of “We Can Get Together”.
The album wasn’t a lot of fun to make. It was recorded in fits and starts. At one point, we left Dreamland Studios early due to a medical issue. The label folks flew in and visited to see what the hell was going on. Franz had left the band, Steve had yet to join, and we were coming off several years of non-stop touring. We’d become a bit more self-aware than in our early days. Many of our favorite bands didn’t make it to their 5th LP, and it’s hard to keep a band evolving for that long. Rock problems, right?
One huge bright spot about this period is that Steve Selvidge came in for the touring on this album cycle. He became and remains a huge part of the heart and soul of THS. In fact, our biggest regret about Heaven now is that we didn’t record this album with Franz and Steve.
There’s even more to the story — the Super Deluxe version of the album available on streaming platforms will include tracks from the 2009 Avatar Sessions in New York City, versions of Heaven is Whenever songs that Franz was working on with the band prior to his departure.
Here in 2020, we’re very proud of Heaven is Whenever. It’s the sound of a band pushing through difficult times by making music about that very struggle. It acknowledges suffering as part of human life. And with all the extra songs that we recorded beyond the album tracks, it’s a testament to the band’s willingness to show up and try to work through uncertainty. Our amazing friend Patterson Hood from the Drive-By Truckers has a lot more to say about that in the LP liner notes.
Happy 10 years to Heaven is Whenever!
Hear “Separate Vacations” below.
The Sweet Part of the City
Soft in the Center
We Can Get Together
Our Whole Lives
A Slight Discomfort
Ascension Blues *
Separate Vacations *
Criminal Fingers *
Beer On The Bedstand *
At Least Not Tonight *
Wonderful Struggle *
Going On A Hike *
We Can Get Together (Alternate) *
DSP ONLY BONUS TRACKS:
Hurricane J (Avatar Sessions) *
Our Whole Lives (Avatar Sessions) *
Separate Vacations (Avatar Sessions) *
Going On A Hike (Avatar Sessions) *
We Can Get Together (Avatar Sessions) *
Beer On The Bedstand (Demo) *
* BONUS TRACKS