Franz Nicolay Leaves The Hold Steady; Scene Seems Noticeably Less Sunny

Mustachioed Hold Steady multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay has announced he’s left the band. Nicolay, who has served as the group’s keyboardist/accordionist/yelping handclapper since 2005’s Separation Sunday, wrote on his website Wednesday:

You should know: I’ve left The Hold Steady. I told the band I’d be leaving in early September, played my last show with them in Minneapolis around Thanksgiving, and dotted the t’s and crossed the i’s this week. Five years seemed like a nice round number. Thanks to everyone who was a part of the experience, especially the Unified Scene, who are nice folks. I’ll see you all soon in any case.

Many Hold Steady fans, myself included, have come to rely on Nicolay for his disjointed, “Piano Man”-drunk keyboards and regular ‘whoa oh-oh’s on staple songs like “Stay Positive” and “Chips Ahoy!” With his unique talents and stage presence, Nicolay will no doubt be difficult to replace. Though, as The Hold Steady moves forward as a post-Nicolay band, there will be one element glaringly missing: fashion.

Nicolay really raised the style bar for the band, with his aforementioned moustache, newsboy cap, and nicely pressed vest and slacks combo. Without him, The Hold Steady are just five grungy middle-aged dudes with stained pants, ironic t-shirts, and original pressings of Let It Be; not exactly rock stars. But I have faith that Craig Finn and co. can recover this loss by following a few simple tips:

1. Craig Finn needs to buy an ascot, and never be seen without it.
2. Lead guitarist Tad Kubler should bleach his hair, begin wearing muscle t-shirts, and refer to himself exclusively as “T.K.”
3. Hire Daniel Radcliffe as Nicolay’s replacement. The kid is hyper-fashionable, isn’t averse to doing shocking things on stage, and already loves the band.
4. Introduce a new character to the long-running Holly/Charlemagne/Gideon narrative based on Gossip Girl’s Chuck Bass. ‘Chuck Crass’ is probably an appropriate name.

Franz Nicolay’s first short story collection, Complicated Garden Techniques, is out in February, and he is currently producing an LP for Brooklyn’s The Debutante Hour. Let’s hope he has many more massive nights down the road.

[Photo: Tad Kubler]

18th Annual Noise Pop Festival Set to Snap, Crackle, and Pop in San Francisco; Dates and Lineup Teasers Announced

Noise Pop has been described as one of California’s most important music festivals,” says festival co-founder Kevin Arnold, “and is a perfect opportunity to experience San Francisco’s world renowned music scene, and the 18th year will be no exception.” In a move surely done to confirm Mr. Arnold’s predictions, the suits behind the Noise Pop Festival have begun to release dates, locations, and performers for the annual festival celebrating independent music, art, and film. The entire shebang is set to run February 23 through March 1, 2010 at venues throughout the San Francisco, CA metro area.

Artists already confirmed to play include The Magnetic Fields, Mark Kozelek, Rogue Wave, Atlas Sound, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Four Tet, John Vanderslice, We Were Promised Jet Packs, Wallpaper, Zee Avi, The Limousines, Foreign Born, Yoko Ono (with Cornelius, Yuka Honda, Sean Lennon), The Dodos & Magik Magik Orchestra collaborative performance, !!!, Harlem, Deerhoof, Memory Tapes, The Fresh and Onlys, Scout Niblett, Far (Reunion Show), The Mumlers, P.E.E (Reunion Show), Mirah, Laura Gibson, Nico Vega, Japanese Motors, Princeton, Free Energy, The Growlers, Nurses, Magic Wands, The Lonely Forest, The Hot Toddies, Tempo No Tempo, and Judgement Day. Further announcements regarding shows, musicians, films, artists, and more will be forthcoming.

The festival will also play host to the Industry Noise conference where open discussions, panels, speakers, interpretive dances, and individual mentoring focusing on the topics of independent music, technology, artistic and musical business ventures, and the changing industry will take place on February 27 at the Swedish American Hall in San Fran.

Updates, and further information on the Industry Noise mini-conference, are available at their website.

Beirut/Arcade Fire Side Project Team B Wanna Give It to Ya… A Free EP, That Is. That’s Totally What I Meant. WHAT?

People love free stuff. I mean, look at you: you’re probably reading this because it said “free” in the headline, right? Yes, it’s true that Beirut/Arcade Fire side project Team B is giving fans a free download of its new EP, The Lost Son, which is pretty cool in and of itself. But do you know what’s even cooler than a free EP? A free EP with an accordion on it. That’s right: Beirut accordion dude Perrin Cloutier features on the recording. And bandleader Kelly Pratt uses words from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Theodore Roethke as lyrics. Go on, download it.

Eyedea & Abilities Rock My World!

Yo! Eyedea & Abilities, those two white boys who won all those Scribble Jams, are on tour! Fuckin’ wild eh? I could hardly believe it myself.

01.28.10 - Duluth, MN - Pizza Luce
01.29.10 - Minneapolis, MN - Augsburg College
01.31.10 - Missoula, MT - The Palace
02.01.10 - Spokane, WA - The Blvd
02.02.10 - Calgary, AB - Republik
02.03.10 - Edmonton, AB - The Brixx Bar and Grill
02.05.10 - Vancouver, BC - The Biltmore Cabaret
02.06.10 - Seattle, WA - Nectar Lounge
02.07.10 - Portland, OR - Hawthorne Theatre
02.08.10 - Eugene, OR - WOW Hall
02.10.10 - San Francisco, CA - Bottom of the Hill
02.11.10 - Los Angeles, CA - Echoplex
02.12.10 - Scottsdale, AZ - Chasers
02.13.10 - Flagstaff, AZ - Green Room
02.15.10 - Albuquerque, NM - Launchpad
02.16.10 - Denver, CO - The Marquis Theatre
02.18.10 - Lawrence, KS - Jackpot Saloon
02.19.10 - St. Louis, MO - Firebird
02.20.10 - Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon

Beach House Tour, Motorhome Feels Replaced

Ahoy! Beach House have emerged from their upstate New York recording lair and are ready to bliss out on the road this winter and spring in support of their January 26 Sub Pop debut, Teen Dream. Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand describe this album as one that’s thrown them for a loop: “We were forced to let go of people and things we were holding onto as individuals: normalcy, daily rituals, the ability to take care of ourselves. We were dropped into a wilderness, but we had more clarity than we’ve ever had before.” So what’s it going to do to audiences? Be a perv, apparently: “Rhythmically, there’s new motion. This record touches you. On your chest.”

Alto-voiced Bachelorette, a one-woman dance band from New Zealand, lends tour support for the first jaunt, and lo-fi roller disco aficionado Washed Out brings up the rear. It’s the Minimal Personnel Tour!

Everyone will fit in an Airstream trailer:

03.26.10 - Washington, DC - Black Cat #
03.27.10 - Middletown, CT - Wesleyan University
03.28.10 - Boston, MA - Paradise #
03.29.10 - Montreal, Quebec - La Sala Rosa #
03.30.10 - Toronto, Ontario - Opera House #
04.01.10 - Pontiac, MI - Pike Room #
04.02.10 - Chicago, IL - Metro #
04.03.10 - Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theater #
04.04.10 - Minneapolis, MN - Cedar Cultural Center #
04.05.10 - Omaha, NE - Waiting Room #
04.06.10 - Lawrence, KS - Jackpot Saloon #
04.07.10 - Denver, CO - Bluebird Theater #
04.09.10 - Boise, ID - Neurolux #
04.10.10 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge #
04.11.10 - Vancouver, British Columbia - Rickshaw Theater #
04.12.10 - Seattle, WA - Neumos #
04.14.10 - San Francisco, CA - Bimbos #
04.15.10 - San Luis Obispo, CA - Downtown Brewing Co. #
04.19.10 - Phoenix, AZ - Rhythm Room *
04.21.10 - Dallas, TX - Granada Theater %
04.22.10 - Austin, TX - Emo’s %
04.23.10 - Houston, TX - Walter’s %
04.24.10 - Baton Rouge, LA - Spanish Moon %
04.25.10 - Tallahassee, FL - Engine Room %
04.27.10 - Birmingham, AL - Bottletree %
04.28.10 - Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge %
04.29.10 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl %
04.30.10 - Asheville, NC - Grey Eagle Tavern %
05.01.10 - Chapel Hill, NC - Cat’s Cradle %
05.06.10 - New York, NY - Webster Hall
05.07.10 - Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church
05.08.10 - Baltimore, MD - 2640 Space

But first:

01.22.10 - New York, NY - Late Night With Jimmy Falllon
01.24.10 - Park City, UT - Sundance Festival
01.26.10 - Brooklyn, NY - The Bell House
02.10.10 - Glasgow, Scotland - King Tuts
02.11.10 - Manchester, England - Islington Mill
02.12.10 - Leeds, England - Brudenell Social Club
02.13.10 - Dublin, Ireland - Whelans
02.14.10 - Belfast, Northern Ireland - Speakeasy
02.16.10 - Cardiff, Wales - Arts Centre
02.17.10 - London, England - Bush Hall
02.18.10 - Lille, France - L’Aéronef Club
02.18.10 - Saint-Malo, France - La Route du Rock
02.20.10 - Paris, France - La Maroquinerie
02.21.10 - Ghent, Belgium - Vooruit
02.22.10 - Brussels, Belgium - Botanique
02.23.10 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - Paradiso
02.24.10 - Groningen, Netherlands - Vera
02.25.10 - Berlin, Germany - Roter Salon
02.26.10 - Copenhagen, Denmark - Loppen
02.27.10 - Stockholm, Sweden - Debaser
02.28.10 - Oslo, Norway - Parkteatret
03.02.10 - Gothenburg, Sweden - Pusterviksbaren (Club Woody West)
03.03.10 - Hamburg, Germany - Molotov
03.04.10 - Leipzig, Germany - UT Connwitz
03.05.10 - Munich, Germany - Feierwerk
03.06.10 - Zurich, Switzerland - Abart
03.08.10 - Newcastle, England - The Sage *
03.09.10 - Edinburgh, Scotland - The Queens Hall *
03.11.10 - Brighton, England - The Corn Exchange *
03.12.10 - Coventry, England - Warwick Arts Centre *
03.13.10 - London, England - Roundhouse *
03.14.10 - London, England - Roundhouse *
03.17.10 - Lisbon, Portugal - Lux Fragil
03.18.10 - Guimareas, Portugal - Centro Cultural Vila Flor

* Grizzly Bear
# Bachelorette
% Washed Out

[Photo: Jason Nocito]

Liars Bring Thom Yorke, Tunde Adebimpe, and Bradford Cox On Board For Sisterworld Bonus Disc

What could be better than a new Liars album in 2010? How about a new Liars album with a bonus disc included? Liars’ fifth album, Sisterworld, which is due March 9 on Mute, is now set to feature a bonus disc with “remixes and reinterpretations” from Thom Yorke, TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox, the Melvins, Suicide’s Alan Vega, and Blonde Redhead.

Liars are also hitting the road this spring to spread the good word about Sisterworld to the masses.

04.10.10 - Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theatre *
04.14.10 - Washington, DC - Rock & Roll Hotel *
04.15.10 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom *
04.16.10 - Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church *
04.17.10 - Boston, MA - Paradise *
04.18.10 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg *
04.27.10 - San Francisco, CA - Slim’s *
04.29.10 - Portland, OR - Hawthorne Theatre *
04.30.10 - Vancouver, British Columbia - TBA *
05.01.10 - Seattle, WA - Neumos *

* Fol Chen


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