The Hold Steady

Almost Killed Me/Separation Sunday

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For those who weren't lucky enough to encounter Brooklyn's the Hold Steady before the near classic Boys and Girls in America or the less interesting Stay Positive, this is a treat. For those who were on board and have either vinyl or beat up burned copies of the CD, here's a chance to make that right. 2004's Almost Killed Me and 2005's Separation Sunday were the first two full-lengths by the N.Y. cum Minneapolis skate rockers fronted by guitarist and songwriter Craig Finn. These are both more chaotic, looser, and a tad rougher than Boys and Girls in America, with their now trademark tales of drunkenness, spiritual guilt, sexual excess, and general scenester good times filled with fear and loathing. Both were borderline punk records that were always aspiring to the big time -- kind of an "arena-rock-in-my basement" subgenre that even back then touched on everything from Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin to Bruce Springsteen and Jonathan Richman. This band's sense of abandon, of anything goes, and ambition is grand, even if they paste it all together with a guttersnipe sensibility and swagger.

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