A pair of winners get their report cards this week. Nice to hear Mellencamp getting his dignity back. As recently as, um, ten years ago, I could tell people I liked him without fear of embarrassment. He had a strong run of albums for a decade-and-a-half from 1983’s Uh-Huh up through his self-titled Columbia debut in ’98. The ones between The Lonesome Jubilee in ’87 and Human Wheels in ’93 were especially good.
As the Hold Steady’s Stay Positive seems to have arrived without the tidal wave of hype that accompanied the release of their very-good-but-not-life-changing (though it probably changed their lives) revelatory Boys and Girls in America in 2006, I feel freer to enjoy it. It just sounds great. It’s okay for records to just sound great sometimes, yeah?