The Hold Steady

Author: Janet



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The Hold Steady is a Brooklyn-based rock band. Four of its five members have lived in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, and their Twin Cities roots are frequently reflected in the band’s lyrics. The band’s style has been described as a “riff-heavy mixture of classic rock,” notable for its “lyrically dense storytelling.”

The band has released four albums: Almost Killed Me (2004), Separation Sunday (2005), Boys and Girls in America (2006), and Stay Positive (2008). Stay Positive will be released on July 14, 2008 on Rough Trade Records and on July 15, 2008 on Vagrant Records.

Lead guitarist Tad Kubler and frontman Craig Finn (both formerly of the band Lifter Puller) first had the idea to form The Hold Steady when sitting at home watching The Last Waltz. Finn asked Kubler, “Dude, why aren’t there any bands like this anymore? Let’s do this from now on.”

The band’s 2004 debut album Almost Killed Me, released on Frenchkiss Records, was a sleeper hit among music critics, reaching #31 in the Pazz & Jop critics poll that year, an achievement which Finn described as “like being nominated for an Oscar or something.” In May 2005, they were the first rock band to grace the front page of The Village Voice in 15 years. The band was Blender’s 2006 Band of the Year.

The band released its second album, Separation Sunday, on May 3, 2005. The album was a loose concept album following the exploits of a character named “Holly” (short for “Hallelujah”) and her quest to find a balance between Catholicism and rock and roll through drugs and a metaphorical resurrection. The album was critically lauded, and its religious overtones were picked up by many critics, such as the Village Voice, who dubbed it “the most egregiously American Catholic album since X’s Under the Big Black Sun, Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love, or that Jewish new waver Billy Joel’s The Stranger.”

After Separation Sunday, for its third album the band moved from the Frenchkiss Records imprint to Vagrant Records. Released October 3, 2006, Boys and Girls in America was ranked #8 on the Rolling Stone Best Albums of 2006 list, and first by The A.V. Club. Pitchfork Media’s Scott Plagenhoff wrote of the album, “[Craig Finn] not only has a commanding, rousing voice but he also says something worth hearing, displaying gifts for both scope and depth that are all too rare in contemporary rock — indie or mainstream.”

The band recorded a modified version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” to be played during the seventh-inning stretch at Minnesota Twins home games during the 2007 season.

The band’s album Stay Positive will be released on July 14, 2008. The album was recorded in Hoboken, New Jersey, and Wild Arctic studio in Queens, New York, with producer John Agnello. Guests on the sessions included Ben Nichols from Lucero and Doug Gillard, who spent some time playing guitar in Guided By Voices. Finn has said that he believes the album “captures a band hitting their creative peak, as well as enjoying each other’s creativity and company.” According to Rolling Stone the band’s latest album is more expansive than previous releases, including talk-box solos, harpsichord and tuneful vocals (the notoriously gruff-voiced Finn started taking voice lessons). “There are some bands that do five records that all sound similar,” says guitarist Tad Kubler. “We’ve tried to avoid that.”

In interview with Pitchfork Media, Craig Finn outlined the band’s influences, which range from classic rock to folk to hip-hop:

Growing up in Minneapolis, Hüsker Dü was a huge band. I always thought Grant Hart was the better songwriter, and his lyrics were very specific. Bob Mould kind of favored vague lyrics. But as far as detail-oriented songwriters, more contemporary… certainly Bruce Springsteen, Jim Carroll, John Darnielle from The Mountain Goats. A lot of hip-hop really inspires me. My absolute favorite stuff is Brother Ali from Rhymesayers. Atmosphere, obviously. Things like Aesop Rock, Sage Francis, Murs, all those guys. Even Jay-Z. Hip-hop is so much about lyrics, and as a lyricist it’s hard not to be inspired by it.

Songs in other media

* In 2006, the band’s song “Your Little Hoodrat Friend” was featured in the video game Tony Hawk’s Project 8.

* In 2007, the band’s song “Girls Like Status” appeared on the soundtrack of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters.

* In 2007, the band’s song “Stuck Between Stations” appeared on the soundtrack of The Nanny Diaries.

* In 2008, the band’s song “Stuck Between Stations” appeared on the soundtrack in the video game MLB 2K8.

* Episode 3×05 and 3×09 of the TV series One Tree Hill are titled “A Multitude of Casualties” and “How a Resurrection Really Feels” respectively.

In 2007, actor Daniel Radcliffe called The Hold Steady “the best band this year by far” in a 2007 magazine interview.

Current Members

* Bobby Drake – drums
* Craig Finn – guitar, vocals
* Tad Kubler – lead guitar
* Franz Nicolay – keyboards, accordion, harmonica
* Galen Polivka – bass guitar

Former Member

* Judd Counsell – drums



* Almost Killed Me (2004)
* Separation Sunday (2005)
* Boys and Girls in America (2006)
* Stay Positive (2008)[11]


* Milkcrate Mosh/Hey Hey What Can I Do 7″ (2004)
* The Virgin Digital Sessions (2005)
* Live at Lollapalooza 2006: The Hold Steady (2006)
* Live at Fingerprints (2007)


* Chips Ahoy (2006)
* Stuck Between Stations (2006)
* Sequestered In Memphis (2008)

- adapted from Wikipedia



    July 13, 2008 @ 1:37 pm | Permalink

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    Hi Janet,

    On behalf of Rough Trade / Beggars Digital, Vagrant and The Hold Steady, many thanks for plugging “Stay Positive” (street date 14th July UK / EU and 15th July US / Can) … .. thanks, also, on behalf of the label and the band for not posting any pirate links to new (studio) material and, if your readers want good quality, non-pirated, preview tracks, “Sequestered in Memphis” is available for fans and bloggers to link to / host / post etc on the band’s MySpace … .. check-out and for details on “Stay Positive” and the band’s 2008 tour … .. a selection of other tracks is also available on the band’s MySpace, although these are for promotional (and fan link) purposes and only and the artist and labels have kindly asked fans and bloggers not to host these tracks directly or to link to any pirate sources – or, of course, host / link to pirate copies the full new album – for which many thanks in advance.

    Thanks again for your write-up.



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