Mike Nicolai
Gig Seeker Pro

Mike Nicolai

Band Rock Punk




""… Nicolai’s bizarre lyrical tableau veer from hilarious to angering to chillingly cold and real, sometimes within a single verse…"

it can feel somethig like getting a ride home from a sensationally drunk savant who’s talking so fast and furious he’s barely watching the road…" -Audiogalaxy - Audiogalaxy

""… a transcendental blend of word and image, laid painfully bare…"

this is rock music stripped to its essence, free of frills and bullshit…" -Austin Chronicle - Austin Chronicle

"…His self-titled debut album has both the rogue charm of Another Side of Bob Dylan and the hoarse irreverence of the Replacements’ Tim."

His lyrics are sharper, angrier, and funnier than either Bob or Paul have mustered up over the last decade or so …" -No Depression - No Depression

"…Mike Nicolai is an old-style troubadour folk/blues/country singer, with a pop-rock edge at times, like on the apocalyptic title track."

That song, like all of his, has a sharp wit to it, as he tweaks the hypocrisy of religion and other institutions of power. He holds nothing back, and his worldview isn’t a hopeful one. Take this, from “Lifesucker Waltz”: “And aspiring to love means nothing / compared to the proven cash value of ritual slaughter / and futures of people fucking each other out of health / out of home / out of whatever.” Games are always played with people’s lives: that story is told here in cleverly worded rants of anger but also in tale-telling form, like “Snakes”, which resembles a kid’s book, yet with a haunting punch of an ending. People’s dreams, smothered or unexpressed, are at the heart of it, and a theme elsewhere. Nicolai has a way of voicing people’s fears (real people’s, little people’s) in raw but also often surprising song-tales…" -Erasing Clouds - Erasing Clouds

"…Mike Nicolai is one of those artists who is impossible to hate. He’s just too damn good."

His stripped-down arrangements suit his superior lyrical wordplay, and yet somehow commercial success has eluded him (for now). God Fatigue just might change all that. Opening with “Tarot’s Road”, you’re drawn into the idea of a singer-songwriter record… only to have the rock stomp of “Post Atom Age” blow your hair to the back of the auditorium…" -Pop Matters - Pop Matters

"Mike Nicolai is one of the best unknown American songwriters working today."

Self-deprecatingly clever and honestly poignant… the hooks aren’t where you expect them to be, the lyrics take a while to reveal themselves, and his vocal phrasing is weird. Totally memorable, but weird. He can be a tough get, especially if you’re impatient, but once you get him, Nicolai rewards you twentyfold. Resistance is futile.” -Adios Lounge - Adios Lounge


Mike Nicolai 1997

Balloon Race EP 1998

Woody Allen Stunt Footage 2000

Rooster Nudes 2003

God Fatigue in the Post Atom Age 2005

Christmas is for Losers EP 2006

PM Magazine (new album by The Bremen Riot, a collaboration with Grand Champeen, will be released in April 2013)



Though the trek down I-35 wasn’t unfamiliar to him, Mike Nicolai moved from Minnesota to Austin in 1994 and embarked on the quest of making music under his own name. A residency at the late, lamented Electric Lounge and allegiance with upcoming notable locals the Gourds and Damnations along with a growing collection of clever songs gained Nicolai a small but fervent fan base, and by the time he released his self-titled debut in 1997, he’d come into his own as a songwriter. The LP and 1998's Balloon Race EP showcased a dry and insightful lyrical style that, when matched against deceptively simple arrangements and deft blue-collar guitar playing, made Nicolai a vessel of much wondering in the world of Austin music. 2000's Woody Allen Stunt Footage took that rep to the next level, trading off between rambling narratives and rock songs. Rooster Nudes was far better than this paper’s 2003 review would have you believe. It takes a bit of effort to peel back the layers of both his writing and song structure, though his latest effort, God Fatigue in the Post Atom Age, is arguably his most accessible to date.

– Christopher Hess, Austin Chronicle

.... performing as a solo act and with backing bands since 1997, touring frequently in the U.S. and Europe, including sets supporting The Gourds, Neko Case, Spoon, Richard Buckner, Vic Chesnutt and others. 2005 - on the "Train to New Orleans" tour benefitting victims of Hurricane Katrina, alongside legends Arlo Guthrie, Willie Nelson and Ramblin' Jack Elliot. Lead singer of The Bremen Riot, a collaboration with Austin rock band Grand Champeen - debut full-length out in April 2013.