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The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady Boys and Girls in America

The Hold Steady Album Reviews

The Hold Steady were formed in New York, but vocalist and lyricist Craig Finn was raised in Minneapolis, which a lot of his songs reference. Finn and guitarist Tab Kubler were part of a synth based band Lifter Puller, but The Hold Steady are derived from classic rock; Kubler and Finn decided to form the band after watching The Band’s The Last Waltz. But unlike The Band, The Hold Steady aren’t based on traditional music forms, and musically they’re more like a blend of 1970’s classic rock like Bruce Springsteen and Thin Lizzy.

Finn’s lyrics are influenced by hip hop, and he builds dense narratives with a cast of characters based in Minneapolis, interweaving themes of sex, drugs, rock and roll, and religion.

The band were joined by mustachioed keyboard player Franz Nicolay, who guested on their 2004 debut Almost Killed Me, and who was a full-time member for their next three, and best, albums. Their records since his 2010 departure have been less enthusiastically received, although I’ve enjoyed 2014’s Teeth Dreams thus far. As of 2016, Nicolay has rejoined The Hold Steady for a tour, and my interest in the band’s current work would be renewed with him involved.

Ten Favourite Hold Steady Songs

Slapped Actress
Stuck Between Stations
First Night
Southtown Girls
Stevie Nix
Hot Soft Light
Your Little Hoodrat Friend
Hornets! Hornets!
Sequestered in Memphis
Chips Ahoy!

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The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me

Almost Killed Me – The Hold Steady

2004, 7/10. On The Hold Steady’s debut, Tab Kubler plays classic rock inspired riffs while Finn spits out dense lyrics inspired by hip hop.

The Hold Steady Separation Sunday

Separation Sunday – The Hold Steady

2005, 8.5/10. Craig Finn’s dense narratives include Holly / Hallelujah, who veers between faith, addiction, and prostitution.

The Hold Steady Boys and Girls in America

Boys and Girls in America – The Hold Steady

2006, 10/10. More accessible and less brutal, reminiscent of the E-Street band in their prime.

The Hold Steady Stay Positive

Stay Positive – The Hold Steady

2008, 9/10. Along with Craig Finn’s usual themes, Stay Positive is a love letter to rock music.

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