Holding 'Steady' 

The Hold Steady, The Thermals
Music Mill
Friday, March 16, 9 p.m., $15

Two bands that make music to speak for a generation of American youth, the Hold Steady and the Thermals, come to the Music Mill this Friday. Both are throwbacks to an ’80s DIY rock sensibility of sharp cynicism and open arms to the weird outskirts of adolescent culture, while still being provocatively insular.

The Hold Steady, out of Brooklyn, N.Y., is the brainchild of Craig Finn, formerly of the band Lifter Puller. With his new band, he attempts to encompass the whole history of rock and roll from Chuck Berry to Bruce Springsteen to the Replacements. The group’s breakthrough record, last year’s Boys and Girls in America (Vagrant), is full of bright melodies, classic rock hooks and teenage reminiscent feeling. It’s as if Finn totally disregards the thick irony prevalent in the indie-rock world these days in order to make a statement about himself that has far-reaching emotional tentacles.

The Thermals, from Portland, Ore., explore a similar relationship to Finn’s Christian upbringing on its latest record, The Body, The Blood, The Machine (Sub Pop). The Thermals is a punk band, louder and more abrasive than the Hold Steady, but often just as catchy with melodies. Led by Hutch Harris and Kathy Foster, formerly of K Records’ pop act All Girl Summer Fun Band, The Thermals takes a delicate subject and unrelentingly and unapologetically blast through it. It’s not exactly the Sex Pistols, but the band’s not far off.

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