Part of the Hold Steady's genius is that vocalist Craig Finn chooses to tell his street poetry with a close approximation of the Silver Bullet Band; in other words, they craft short, sordid stories that you can drink to. But you can tell that the band is reaching for the stars on their third album: the populist title, the move to a larger label and, most important, the ambitious production (courtesy of John Agnello). The Hold Steady take their beloved bar-band formula and amp it up with glistening keyboards, dramatic stops and starts, and rousing backing vocals. Such ambition doesn't dull Finn's storytelling; he's still chronicling kids "lost in fog and love and faithless fear," as he sings on "Citrus." But... More >>>