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The Hold Steady's 'Heaven Is Whenever'

In this CD cover image released by Vagrant,

In this CD cover image released by Vagrant, the latest by The Hold Steady, "Heaven is Whenever," is shown. (AP Photo/Chely Wright) Credit: AP Photo/

(Vagrant) sounds like The Hold Steady may think being "America's best bar band" is just fine. With the departure of keyboardist Franz Nicolay, things don't sound nearly as grand - shifting their balance of influences away from stadium-rocking Springsteen toward club-friendly Replacements. Nevertheless, "Hurricane J" is one of the year's most memorable indie rockers, while "Our Whole Lives" shows they haven't given up on amping-up Springsteen's "Rosalita" just yet, and the massive "Slight Discomfort" shows all the "Stay Positive" ambition isn't gone. Maybe this is the sound of regrouping.


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