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Stay Positive

4.2 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 17, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Stay Positive is the fourth studio album from The Hold Steady and follows their hugely popular 2006 release Girls And Boys In America. Working once again with producer John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.), the album sees the band continue in the same direction their previous release took them, mixing classic bar-room style Rock with Craig Finn's half spoken/half sung lyrical tales of drinking, partying and love. Features the single 'Sequestered In Memphis'.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Constructive Summer
  2. Sequestered in Memphis
  3. One for the Cutters
  4. Navy Sheets
  5. Lord, I'm Discouraged
  6. Yeah Sapphire
  7. Both Crosses
  8. Stay Positive
  9. Magazines
  10. Joke About Jamaica
  11. Slapped Actress


Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 17, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Vagrant
  • ASIN: B001BP4K4K
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,436 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
News of the new Hold Steady album raised a lot of questions. Could it possibly live up to the escalating expectations their first three albums produced? Will the familiar characters of the past be back? Can Craig Finn keep writing the wittiest lyrics in rock music? Will every review make a Springsteen comparison? The answer to all of these questions is yes.

Stay Positive was released in digital form last month and like it's predecessors gets off to a rocking start with "Constructive Summer" which revisits Boys and Girls in America's theme of partying with friends while tossing in a toast to "St. Joe Strummer" who "might have been our only decent teacher". "Sequestered in Memphis" keeps the rocking party going but throws some shadows in the lyrics. There are subpoenas and sequesters, and the lyrics seem to be the response to an interrogation. In Craig Finn's addled world you don't go back to her place when you leave the bar, you go to "someplace where she cat sits".

When a harpsicord leads off the third song "One for the Cutters" you start to realize you may not be in Minnesota anymore. Kids are being killed, suspects are on the run, and every townie is being paraded to the police station. What follows in the album are the consequences to the partying. Characters are older but not wiser, and aging but not gracefully. Holly (who like Gideon and Charlemagne are never named) may be in worse shape than where she was left in the song "First Night" from BAGIA. "Lord I'm Discouraged", a heartbreaking ballad with a monster guitar solo finds the singer pining away for her and praying "she don't die".

Even the title track "Stay Positive" warns "There's gonna time a time when the scene'll seem less sunny.
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Format: Audio CD
I have to admit that I came pretty late to The Hold Steady party but better late than never. I picked up their 2006 release Boys and Girls in America about 6 months ago and quickly followed it up with Separation Sunday and Almost Killed Me. After fully immersing myself in those albums I was more than ready for this release. Stay Positive could be The Hold Steady's masterpiece, but somehow I think that album is still to come. What it is, however, is one of the finest albums in a year of fine albums.

In the rock press The Hold Steady is often referred to as a unique blending of The Replacements and Bruce Springsteen, but they'r much more than that. In the opening track "Constructive Summer" they mine the ground formerly occupied by another Minneapolis band, Husker Du and name drops Joe Strummer opining that "I think he might have been our only decent teacher". The song is similar to many of their earlier works except that the characters are older and a bit more damaged a world of dashed hopes and diminishing expectations. Craig Finn writes abotu these scenes as if he's not only lived them, but breathed them and drank them down. Never is this more in evidence than on the second track, and obvious single "Sequestered in Memphis" a rollicking account of a one night stand. If your not singing along by the second chorus of this one then this band is not for you.

Despite it's title Stay Positive is a fairly dark album in content. On Boys and Girls in America the characters were young hard partiers who still had their optimism. Now they're older and more beaten up by life. On "One for the Cutters" with it's murder mystery theme and harpsichord (!) tones this is in particular evidence.
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Format: Audio CD
This excellent record deserves to be played loud. Unfortunately, it's been so aggressively mastered, that I haven't been able to turn it up without distorting.
I'll gladly pay twice if somebody can tell me that the vinyl was treated differently.
Musically, this is the best album of the year.
Sonically, the wrong mastering for what should be a loud, dynamic rock masterpiece.
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Format: Audio CD
It is another Hold Steady album and another set of songs about scenes, parties, drugs, and drinking played over classic rock music. On the surface it may seem like that formula would be getting stale 4 albums into the bands career, but there are enough new wrinkles added this time around to keep things fresh.

The base sound is very similar to "Boys and Girls In America", it's more rocking, fist-pumping, and arena-ready than "Separation Sunday", another step in the bands sonic path that is to be expected based on their last album. What they've added are some subtle musical touches (a harpsichord and banjo, most notably) and a shift in lyrical subject matter. Where as their previous albums were all about the parties themselves, "Stay Positive" focuses on the aftermath, including a murder mystery that plays out over a few of the tracks.

"Constructive Summer" is the best anthem they've written, it has a definite punk influence and will probably be a huge hit in a live setting. There are a few other anthems throughout the album, "Sequestered In Memphis" and "Stay Positive" are notable standouts. I think this album really succeeds on the slower songs. Where as on "Boys & Girls" the slower songs dragged the album down in my opinion, here they really take the album to a whole other level. "One for the Cutters" is slower track, but it is also an excellent track that stands up amongst the bands best.

The trademark Craig Finn wit is all over the album, as expected, my personal favorite gem this time around is from "Sequestered In Memphis": "In the barlight, she looked alright/In the daylight, she looked desperate/That's alright, I was desperate too.
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