The Hold Steady

While everyone is buzzing about the new Springsteen album Magic (I ordered but haven’t heard all of it yet), I want to direct your attention to a band that reminds me a great deal of The Boss of old: The Hold Steady

Boys_and_girls_in_americaOn the strength of just a few songs, I picked up Boys and Girls in America. The song that really reached out and grabbed me was First Night.

Pitchfork Media, which called The Hold Steady "America’s #1 bar band," gave the album a Rating: 9.4.  My favorite part of their review:

"It’s no wonder that critical darlings the Hold Steady aren’t exactly indie rock heroes. Marginalized to that world almost by default– radio and video are, for the most part, unkind to new rock bands not targeted at high-schoolers — the Hold Steady craft classic rock-indebted music that would sound better sandwiched between Born to Run and Back in Black than Illinois and Tigermilk . . .

[Frontman] Criag Finn does this is by ratcheting up the force and power of the music, layering guitar and trebly keys and multiple hooks on top of one another like a mid-1970s E Street Band or an E-boosted Happy Mondays. It’s rock’n’roll before it was ashamed to do either, and unlike on past efforts, lyrics can sometimes be summed up by lines that approximate the effect of a chorus, even if they’re presented more like a thesis statement: "I’ve had kisses that make Judas seem sincere," "When they kiss they spit white noise," the aforementioned "Gonna walk around and drink some more."

That sounds just about right to me. Other reviewers have also been enthusiastic:

Rolling Stone:    "…bizarrely touching and insanely original."

SPIN"  "a raucous album rife with heavy guitar licks and more cultural references than Paul’s Boutique."

Pitchfork: "One of the most convincing rock bands to emerge in recent years…unadulterated aggression and ear-splitting amps."

You can see more about the disc here

There’s a good interview with the band, and an acoustic version of Chips Ahoy at NPR (which is very unlike the production sound of this disc). 

Stuck Between Stations

MARGARITA (Acoustic)

The full run of "authorized" videos are here.

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Inside the Investor’s Brain

Last month, we got a terrific response to our posting of the entire first chapter of A Demon of Our Own Design.

I want to start doing this at least once-a-month, and plan on setting up an additional space to discuss the books in more details.

Peterson_high_resolution_cover Today’s book is by Dr. Richard Peterson’s Inside the Investor’s Brain: The Power of Mind Over Money.

Long time readers know that I have been a big fan of books that seek top explain how are brains are wired, and how this hard-wiring frequently sends us astray as investors.

Back in 2005, I wrote a column titled Know Thyself. Because Human nature so often runs counter to successful investing, its important to understand — and resist — many of your baser instincts.

The best book on the topic I have come previously across is Cornell Professor Thomas Gilovich’s How We Know What Isn’t So.  However, that is a bit of an academic work, focusing purely on human psychology. Some people have found it to be a bit dry, and it requires some imagination to apply the lessons there to investing and markets.

Inside the Investor’s Brain suffers none of these detractions. A few things make the book work especially well: 1) The author, Dr. Richard Peterson, is a psychiatrist who specializes in neuro-science studies; 2) Peterson is also a futures trader, so he has first hand experience as to the psychology pitfalls of trading (Peterson is launching a "Quantitative Psychology based Hedge Fund in 2008); 3) By combining these two disciplines, he has been acting as a consultant to large financial firms.

I found the book accessible and easy to read, filled with amusing anecdotes and illustrative examples.

Barron’s had this very laudatory review, stating simply: "IF YOU READ BARRON’S, AND APPARENTLY you do, read this

I would modify that: If you find the intersection of human psychology, markets and investing, than you should find this book rather intriguing.

Whether or not you Humans are capable of circumventing your own wetware in order to obtain alpha (out-performance) has yet to be determined . . .


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