In 2005, The Hold Steady released Separation Sunday, a concept album about a teenage girl living in Minnesota. Despite the fact that the group is composed of four guys, the record captured both her story and a setting, helping boost the band into the spotlight and winning it a hyper-loyal fanbase plus widespread acclaim from critics. Since then, the indie-rock group, helmed by Minneapolis-native Craig Flynn, has continued to explore themes of religion, addiction, suburban boredom, and broken hearts. Flynn’s lyrics have a narrative quality that is often compared to Bruce Springsteen’s mode of musical storytelling. And while his voice, as well as the band’s overall sound, are also compared to the Boss, the group is influenced by a wide range of sources, from Thin Lizzy to Brother Ali. Its eighth album promises to continue in a tradition of vivid writing and evocative sound. —C.J.F.