FRANZ NICOLAY: Luck and Courage: CD

Jan 06, 2011

Franz Nicolay is one of the best side men in music right now. At one time or another, he’s provided valuable services to a slew of my favorite bands as varied as Guignol, The Hold Steady, World/Inferno Friendship Society, and the Star Fucking Hipsters. I’ve even caught him get on stage with the Subhumans (UK) back in 2006. Having missed his earlier release Major General, it took me a bit to wrap my head around this. While filled with multiple instruments such as piano, organ, banjo, and horns, in addition to the standard drums and guitars, the musical eclecticism is subtler than in World/Inferno. Lyrically, this hues closely to the illustrative imagery and story-like snippets of the Hold Steady, but delivered my Nicolay’s much cleaner vocals. It’s as if these songs are the Greek chorus for a collection of unseen plays. This release ultimately wins me over not as a visceral rock experience, like with many of the bands he’s worked with, but as the work of a modern day storytelling minstrel, with his detailed sketches of people and places such as “This Is Not a Pipe” and “James Ensor Redeemed.” It’s like the Weakerthans by way of highly trained buskers. Definitely worth a contemplative listen.

 –Adrian (Team Science, [email protected])

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