This spring, when the Hold Steady release their sixth LP Teeth Dreams, nearly four years will have passed since the Brooklyn band’s previous full-length album, 2010’s Heaven Is Whenever. It’s the longest gap between albums in the rock band’s decade-plus career. “[The recording process] may have dragged out a bit this time,” singer Craig Finn tells Rolling Stone. “But I think it’s all for the best.”
Teeth Dreams was recorded over the past two years in Brooklyn and Franklin, Tenn. and marks a new beginning for the Hold Steady: it’s their first album recorded with longtime touring guitarist Steve Selvidge, who joined the band on the road following the 2010 departure of multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay. “It was exciting again,” says guitarist Tad Kubler. “There was a newness to this album that I hadn’t felt in awhile.”
The new tracks find the band leaning heavy on distortion and snaking guitar licks – Finn’s favorite of the batch is “On With the Business,” a pummeling blast of electric guitar and vocal delay that finds the notoriously sharp-eyed vocalist appraising a city heavy on “weak handshakes” and “beautiful kitchens.” On “The Ambassador,” one of the album’s rare moments of serenity, Finn’s details a temporary holding cell of a shack-up in Michigan with “hot and glistening nights” and halls that “smelled like burning hair.” And the band’s first single, “I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You” (streaming below) is a barreling Foo Fighters-style melodic rocker, with rapid-fire vocals spilling from Finn as drummer Bobby Drake swings beneath.
He says the band has drummed up their biggest-sounding, most rock-oriented album to date. “We were looking to make a big rock record,” he admits. “Maybe it’s less wild but in some ways that makes it a bigger record.”
Teeth Dreams is not the Hold Steady’s only new release: the band is also prepping to unveil a covers EP, RAGS, which was funded by donations from fans and will released directly to them. A portion of all proceeds will benefit their late friend and business partner, Mike Van Jura, who died suddenly in November 2012. The band recorded the EP in Brooklyn this past December, where each member brought in one song to record. “There’s some classic rock, there’s some punk rock, there’s some indie rock” he says. “[The songs] are kind of indicative of where we’re coming from.”
Teeth Dreams is out on March 25th via Washington Square Records. Stream the first single “I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You” below: