Monday, March 02, 2009

Franz Nicolay - Major General

Well, my fever is starting to break, school is starting to coast into Spring Break, and the end of the month recruiting push is over for work. It's time for me to get to these reviews that I have been putting off for too long. First up: Franz Nicolay's Major General.
Now, I'm sure we all know that I am a Hold Steady fanboy, They are a band of huge talents. However, I generally think solo albums are useless exercises. Generally bands are greater than the sum of there parts. I wasn't expecting to much out of Franz as a solo act. His side-project, World Inferno/Friendship Society definitely lacks a lot.
Not expecting much, it was easy to be impressed by the opening lines of "Jeff Penalty". It recounts the story of seeing a Jello Biafra-less Dead Kennedys, "the greatest karaoke show ever".
The album cycles through about 13 different musical styles in just as many songs. There are a few other standouts. "Do We Not Live In Dreams?" is a vaudevillian jazz number that slows along through perfection. "Note on a Subway Wall" is nearly showtune-esque, but it suits Franz's somewhat heavy. The Hold Steady have often got Springsteen comparisons; well if The Hold Steady sound like Springsteen, then Franz might be Bruce's twin in "This World is an Open Door". The best song on the album comes second to last with "Cease Fire, Or, Mrs. Norman Maine". It is a beautiful banjo led break-up song.
I look forward to Franz's next solo outing. Hopefully he can hold the reigns in a bit tighter and focus his sound. Right now he has a lot of potential.

"World/Inferno Vs. The End Of The Evening"

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