Monday, December 15, 2008

2008 Year in Review: Album of the Year

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
Of all of my year end choices, Album of the Year was the hardest. 2008 was a year of phenomenal songs and decent albums. Looking back, I found many albums I enjoyed, but few that I consistently liked sitting down and listening to all the way through. Then I put on the Hold Steady’s Stay Positive. While not my favorite Hold Steady record, Stay Positive was the most cohesive and complete record of 2008. From the blaring guitar riff that kicks off “Constructive Summer” to the chorus of “whoas” in “Slapped Actress,” Stay Positive is an album that keeps you listening in a way no other record did in 2008. Craig Finn is lyrically at the top of his game, telling stories of murder (“Song for the Cutters”), downtrodden drunks (“Lord I’m Discouraged”) and fights (“Slapped Actress”). The band was also the most successful at transitioning their sound from one album to the next. While Coldplay and My Morning Jacket made giant leaps in their sound that make their records very distinct from their previous ones, Stay Positive sounds like the step up from 2006’s Boys and Girls in America. Like I said, it isn’t my favorite Hold Steady album, but the fact it’s not and is still my album of the year shows that this is a truly great band that’s always worth listening to.

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