Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, a director’s filmography, or some other critical pop-culture collection in the abstract. It’s exact science by way of a few beers. This time, we sort through the best and worst of rock ‘n’ roll’s go-to bar band not named Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
The Hold Steady may only have six albums, but dissecting their discography proved to be quite the challenge. More than the vast majority of modern indie rock bands, there are constant echoes throughout their songwriting, with the same people, places, and words reoccurring throughout, not to mention the new ones that get introduced with each record. There’s a detailed mythology at play, albeit one that somehow always manages to stay cryptic.
Did that stop us from trying to decipher it? Hell no. While this certainly isn’t a linear breakdown of the band’s storytelling, it’s, at the very least, an inventory of the patterns in their music. So, take a seat and enjoy. We are the theater. You are the people.