The worlds of indie rock and sprawling, bloodthirsty pseudo-medieval epics rarely overlap. But an episode last year of HBO's Game of Thrones closed with the Hold Steady's rendition of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” a song whose lyrics appear in the books on which the hit show is based. And the more you think about how both the program and band have literary roots, the less strange the coupling is. In the Hold Steady, frontman Craig Finn talk-sings dramadies involving drugs, drinking, sex, religion, redemption, and many a youthful indiscretion, weaving in references to writers like John Berryman, Jack Kerouac, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson along the way. The five-piece is a pretty good rock outfit instrumentally, but on a lyrical level, it's a cut above any contemporaries. Check out Teeth Dreams, the Hold Steady's sixth album, if you need recent proof of its storytelling prowess.
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