It’s no secret that Adrienne and I were geeks. We met at a High School Model United Nations conference and I believe life has never been the same for either of us. Both history wonks, we knew that The Open Door Policy was started in the 1890s by Secretary Of State Hayes. It applied to China, which was being split into ‘Zones of Influence’ by the colonial powers, especially the British, Dutch. Portuguese, German, and baby imperialist Americans. This new policy allowed any country to deal with and trade with any zone in the territory. To work this title into the Hold Steady narrative, it seems like guitarist Tad Kubler’s songwriting territory has been opened up to other songwriters, especially keyboardist Franz Nicolay and guitarist Steve Selvidge on the new album with the wonky name-check. (Lincoln wonks will note Secretary Hayes and JG Nicolay served as Lincoln's assistants--it is all tying nerdily together).
‘The Feelers’ is a Led Zeppelin pastiche, featuring keyboardist Franz Nicolay doing his best ‘John Paul Jones’ impression on the Fender Rhodes. ‘Spices’ is a knockout, with a killer guitar riff that reminds me of a That Petrol Emotion song, which itself goes to Captain Beefheart.
Hear The Hold Steady 'Spices' at this link.
Hear That Petrol Emotion 'V2' at this link.
Hear Captain Beefheart 'Hot Head' at this link.