Heaven Is Whenever
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Heaven Is Whenever
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2010 album from the American Alt-Rock favorites. The album was produced by Dean Baltulonis and was recorded at Dreamland Recording Studios in Upstate NY and Wild Arctic Studios in Queens, NY. Singer Craig Finn says ''Heaven Is Whenever is about embracing suffering and finding reward in our everyday lives''. Piano and keys take a backseat to guitar on the new record, which also gets production help from guitarist Tad Kubler. Recorded in several smaller sessions spread out over a long period of time, the songs on Heaven Is Whenever received the benefit of being tested on the band's recent tours. As Finn says this allowed them to see what was working and what wasn't. Following the release of 2008's critically acclaimed Stay Positive, which gave the band it's highest Billboard chart position to date, The Hold Steady toured relentlessly, playing to some of their biggest audiences to date.
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Which brings us to the new album, Heaven Is Whenever. At first listen it seems almost radio-ready, with the Wilcoisms of "Sweet Part of the City" and the doo-wop rhythms of "We Can Get Together." But it's so much more than that. This is a varied album, ranging from rockers that will please any long time Hold Steady fan, like "Hurricane J" and "Soft in the Center," which is home to my current favorite line from the album ('You can't tell people what they wanna hear if you also want to tell the truth') to new sounds and experiments with lusher production (the aforementioned "Sweet Part of the City" and the album closer "A Slight Discomfort."
Since their last album, Stay Positive, the Hold Steady has been moving away from the in your face musical aggression that characterized their earlier albums. This is neither a good nor bad thing, for their live shows remain as energetic and amazing as ever, mixing old with new seamlessly. However, it is interesting to hear them evolving, making greater use of the studio, exploring new directions in their playing.
If you don't know the band, Heaven is Whenever would be an excellent starting point. If you're already a fan, get ready to be challenged yet again by the best American band out there right now.
If you've looked up a few of the songs on youtube or what-have-you, or have heard them from other sources, and like them, but are unsure of whether they'll remain a strong part of your collection. If you think there's a possibility that Heaven is Whenever is filled with tracks that will become reflexively skipped in a few months, then let me assure you. It won't. This may be one of those strange, intermediate albums, but that doesn't mean it isn't worthy.
Check out the vinyl if you want the best sound quality. The LP is thick and quiet. The sound is not nearly as compressed as the CD/MP3 but I can tell there is compression in the recording itself, not just the mastering. However this is the only crankable version of <Heaven is Whenever> on the market.
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It is a very different taste from the usual anthem, riff-driven music you'd expect from...Read more