Almost Killed Me
Originally together in Lifter Puller, vocalist Craig Finn and guitarist Tab Kubler were inspired to form The Hold Steady while watching The Band’s The Last Waltz. Kubler plays classic rock inspired riffs while Finn spits out dense lyrics inspired by hip hop, interweaving stories about sex, drugs, and Catholicism. Almost Killed Me is a strong debut, but in light of what follows it feels like a rough draft – Finn’s narratives would become even more complex and the band’s sounds both became more complex.
Franz Nicolay only guests on a few tracks here, but his keyboards would beef up their sound on future releases. The strongest tracks include ‘Knuckles’, with its repetitive lyrical formula (eg. “I’ve been trying to get people to call me Freddie Mercury/But people keep calling me Drop Dead Fred”, and ‘Certain Songs’, which still feels like a prototype for later piano based Hold Steady tracks.
Almost Killed Me is a strong debut, but it’s like a rough sketch for The Hold Steady’s future releases.