The Hold Steady will release their seventh LP, Thrashing Thru the Passion, on August 16th. The album, which follows 2014’s Teeth Dreams, compiles five new songs with five others issued digitally over the past three years.
The Brooklyn sextet previewed the record with opener “Denver Haircut,” a signature surge of snarling electric guitars, chiming piano chords and the clever, deadpan observations of frontman Craig Finn.
“He shaved his head at the airport/In a bar at the end of the concourse,” the singer notes on the track. “He said you’re kind of catching me at a transitional time/I’m a bright light burning into a dark horse/She said I’ll strap on the saddle/And I’m sorry but this city’s a cesspool/I’ve kissed and I’ve cackled with half of these jackals/Still couldn’t get any jet fuel.”
Thrashing Thru the Passion also features new songs “Epaulets,” “You Did Good Kid,” “Traditional Village” and “Blackout Sam” — all of which the Hold Steady recorded with producer Josh Kaufman and engineer D. James Goodwin in early 2019 in Woodstock, New York.
“We thought ‘Denver Haircut’ sounded like the first track on a record. ‘Blackout Sam’ sounded like it should close an album side,” Finn said in a statement on Bandcamp. “In fact, these five songs together sounded like a cool A side of an album. So, after D. James Goodwin mixed the songs, we decided to put them together with some of our favorite songs we’d recorded in the past few years and make it an album. We pondered a track list for a bit, had our friend Dave Gardner master it, and here it is. We call it Thrashing Thru The Passion, which is taken from a line on ‘You Did Good Kid.'”
The LP’s five remaining songs — “Entitlement Crew,” “Confusion in the Marketplace,” “T-shirt Tux,” “Star 18” and “The Stove & the Toaster” — were all previously released during a wave of periodic double-singles dating back to late 2017.
In his statement, Finn commented on the band’s recent pivot away from traditional albums and tours.
“A lot of things have changed since we started in 2003,” he said. “We’ve changed the way we approach touring, opting for multi show weekends in bigger cities rather than the skullduggery of month long slogs. This is more realistic for where we are at now, and we’ve also found it to make the band much more musical. More of our time together is spent playing and performing music than setting up and taking down gear, driving it to the next place, setting it up again. Also, these runs of shows have reinforced what an amazing community exists around this band, and how it keeps growing. All in all, making this change to the way we approach shows has given a new life to the band.
“We’ve also made changes in how we release music,” he continued. “In late 2017, we dropped ‘Entitlement Crew’ and ‘A Snake in the Shower’ as a surprise before our second annual Massive Nights run at the Brooklyn Bowl. We made it available on Bandcamp, with a suggested donation that raised money for a charity. We’ve repeated that a number of times now, dropping these digital singles just before a run of shows. It’s been fun to release music this way, it feels almost like a new episode of a serial. It also allowed us to escape some of the promotional obligations that come with releasing a full LP. In short, it keeps things exciting and fresh.”
While Finn emphasized that their release methodology remains in flux, he said the album format “felt right this time.” He continued, “We can’t say what we will do next time, but with the recording industry where it is in 2019, it feels wide open. We will continue to take the advice Paul Stanley offered on the classic Kiss song, ‘Room Service,’ and do what we feel.”