Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Hold Steady: A Positive Rage [Vagrant, 2009]
On Halloween 2006, a decade-plus after choosing the unremunerative lifework of hanging around Bar Band Nation without falling in, Craig Finn climaxes a tour that's had him selling out thousand-seaters and knows it's too soon to stop now. Like the Raspberries when they were in it for the hits not the sales, he's in it for the house not the gate. And he's so psyched as he watches those houses get bigger that he invests his excellent story-songs with an emotion their excellent studio versions have never matched--though maybe now they will. A-