Thursday, February 5, 2009

Franz Nicolay - Major General

Most visitors to JS-NYC probably know Franz best as the mustachioed keyboard player of The Hold Steady, but he's pretty much everywhere, so maybe you've seen him solo, with Guiginol, World Inferno or a million other projects. He's the artier present-day version of the late Drew Glackin in his ubiquity. Major General is the first solo release from Franz,  although he sold a short run of the demos of these songs on tour. You can still get said demos from Franz in digital form here. You'll be shocked to know that I bought them a while back. I had heard most of the songs when Franz opened for the American Music Club shows last Spring and was happy to finally get Jeff Penalty in recorded form. I dug the demos a lot, but sadly the tide of other JS-NYC  reviewables relegated it to the sidelines like too many other great recordings.

The demos aren't all that far from the glossier versions that appear on Major General. If Franz helmed The Hold Steady and drove them from the position of American Music Club obsession rather than Springsteen, you'd get the songs here. Unsurprisingly, Franz is good with a hook. His well is pretty deep; there aren't too many people who could pull off a cover of Do We Not Live In Dreams and not come off saccharine (and pretentiously so), but our Franz manages to pull it off with his usual aplomb. He follows it up with the driving Confessions Of An Ineffective Casanova, just to remind you that he's not trifling when it comes to the rock department, either. Whether you like the songs fast or prefer them slow, Major General is a great record, and an early candidate for best of the year for this guy.  I couldn't suggest more emphatically that you buy the thirteen songs that comprise it here. Doubting Thomases can try it before you by it here. No doubt, afterwards you'll want to keep track of the general goings-on with our Mr. Nicolay. Do that here


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