The Hold Steady – Where the E Street Band meets Elvis Costello
There was a time when finding an alternative to the barrage of mainstream pop music coming out of the USA meant simply glancing over the ocean to see what was going on in the UK. Times seem to have changed as the British rockers more and more appear as one similar mass with little differentiation from band to band. Lyrics revolving around the usual lads’ banter have dulled the tastes and have left discerning audiences wanting more.
Ally Carnwath of The Guardian is telling us to look to the USA to find intelligent yet approachable pop music and has listed five bands that we should be listening to right now. Read his views in Meet the bands with poetry on the brain.
Here’s an excerpt:
Vampire Weekend’s performance might have felt then like a happy anomaly, a fleeting moment of midsummer madness before festival orthodoxy, in the form of hundreds of mediocre indie bands, reasserted itself. But scenes like this are becoming increasingly familiar. In a fortnight’s time, the Hold Steady, a five-piece also based in Brooklyn who deal in complex tales of teenage excess and Catholic guilt, will play at the notoriously unimaginative V Festival. Vampire Weekend will reprise their smarty-pants pop at the end of August at Reading and Leeds, festivals where the hint of an allusive lyric would traditionally see bottles of yellow liquid arcing towards the stage.
With acclaimed records from Fleet Foxes, and lesser-known but equally brilliant albums from alt-rock veterans the Mountain Goats, whose songwriter John Darnielle published a novel inspired by Black Sabbath earlier this year, and Silver Jews, a band based around poet David Berman, 2008 has seen a slew of witty, hyper-literate American groups who provide a much-needed corrective to Britain’s indie malaise.
In the meantime, enjoy Vampire Weekend’s “A-Punk”.