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Heaven Is Whenever: Hold Steady

This year’s Heaven Is Whenever is the fifth studio album by Brooklyn’s Hold Steady, and if you’ve been paying any attention, you know what to expect. There are big, butt-rockin’ guitar riffs. There are boozy, shout-along choruses. There are Craig Finn’s half-sung, half-spoken vocals. And there are Finn’s usual themes: memories of growing up around Minneapolis, messed-up girls, great old punk bands, bad drugs, Catholic guilt.

Multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay left before the album was recorded. His quasi-classical keyboard-playing always seemed a little out of step with the rest of the band, so Heaven Is Whenever finds the Hold Steady sounding more like the Hold Steady than ever.

Still, the fun in listening to the Hold Steady is in the details, so it doesn’t matter that the big picture is familiar. In “We Can Get Together,” Finn tells of hanging out with a girl, spinning records, and talking about music. He mentions singles by Pavement, Hüsker Dü, Meatloaf, the Psychedelic Furs, and the great ’90s twee/riot-grrl band Heavenly. The Heavenly single they like is “about a pure and simple love.” But, years later, the song doesn’t seem so simple: “He wasn’t just the drummer, he was the singer’s little brother.” Here, Finn is referring to the suicide that ended Heavenly’s career. You don’t need to know that to understand what’s going on: it’s bittersweet nostalgia for youth, tinged with regret and guilt. And the Hold Steady manages to pack all this into a song that sounds like a classic-rock power ballad circa 1979.

The Night Marchers and New Politics also perform.

THE HOLD STEADY: 4th&B, Saturday, November 13, 8 p.m. 619-231-4343. $26.

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This year’s Heaven Is Whenever is the fifth studio album by Brooklyn’s Hold Steady, and if you’ve been paying any attention, you know what to expect. There are big, butt-rockin’ guitar riffs. There are boozy, shout-along choruses. There are Craig Finn’s half-sung, half-spoken vocals. And there are Finn’s usual themes: memories of growing up around Minneapolis, messed-up girls, great old punk bands, bad drugs, Catholic guilt.

Multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay left before the album was recorded. His quasi-classical keyboard-playing always seemed a little out of step with the rest of the band, so Heaven Is Whenever finds the Hold Steady sounding more like the Hold Steady than ever.

Still, the fun in listening to the Hold Steady is in the details, so it doesn’t matter that the big picture is familiar. In “We Can Get Together,” Finn tells of hanging out with a girl, spinning records, and talking about music. He mentions singles by Pavement, Hüsker Dü, Meatloaf, the Psychedelic Furs, and the great ’90s twee/riot-grrl band Heavenly. The Heavenly single they like is “about a pure and simple love.” But, years later, the song doesn’t seem so simple: “He wasn’t just the drummer, he was the singer’s little brother.” Here, Finn is referring to the suicide that ended Heavenly’s career. You don’t need to know that to understand what’s going on: it’s bittersweet nostalgia for youth, tinged with regret and guilt. And the Hold Steady manages to pack all this into a song that sounds like a classic-rock power ballad circa 1979.

The Night Marchers and New Politics also perform.

THE HOLD STEADY: 4th&B, Saturday, November 13, 8 p.m. 619-231-4343. $26.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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