“Good to see you again,” David Letterman said as he shook Craig Finn’s and Tad Kubler’s hands on last night’s episode of “The Late Show” on CBS. Dave probably didn’t know how true a statement he was making.
After an uncharacteristic four-year idle between albums, Finn’s and Kubler’s Minnesota-rooted Brooklyn band, the Hold Steady, finally return full-steam with today’s release of their sixth album, “Teeth Dreams.” They earned a primo Letterman slot to promote the new record, not only because it fell on the eve of its release but it happen to have to high-profile guests in former President Jimmy Carter (who pretty well explained everything wrong with the world in 15 minutes flat) and actor Josh Charles (whose surprise offing on “The Good Wife” which was all the buzz in the TV world Monday).
The song they played for Letterman, “Spinners” – which sounded a bit heftier and more wicked live than it does on the record – is a good indicator of what to expect of “Teeth Dreams.” After 2010’s poorly received, over-produced “Heaven Is Whenever,” the band doesn’t back off entirely from the bigger/better-polished sound, but it does stick closer to the seedy storytelling and dirty two-guitar formula of early albums. There’s no piano like before, but plenty of organ and a lot that sounds familiar. At least a couple tunes enter new territory, though, including the twangy, dramatic builder “The Ambassador,” which is also one of a handful of tunes spiked with Minnesota references (“You came back to in south Minneapolis”). Another standout, “Almost Everything,” is the band’s first true all-acoustic tune a decade into its run.
Twin Cities fans have yet to get a local date on the band’s “Teeth Dreams” tour, but you can be sure they’re coming. Those guys know to wait till summer if they can.