Archive | Nicolay / Franz RSS feed for this section

Day 345: Franz Nicolay – Major General

8 Feb

Jeff Penalty

Had I known earlier in the Swole processes that my mustachioed hero, Franz Nicolay, has released a few solo records, believe me, I would have been all over those albums.  Nicolay, the former keyboardist for The Hold Steady, was around and featured prominently, on that band’s best albums.  His departure before 2010’s Heaven is Whenever was a little traumatic for me, as that record proved to be The Hold Steady’s weakest effort to date.  Their live shows are also missing something without him—while not quite as in your face as always-hilarious frontman Craig Finn, seeing the permanently-jubilant Nicolay jumping behind the keyboard was fun.

Having never really heard the man’s voice before, I didn’t know what to expect from his solo work.  I figured there’d be a ton of fast-paced keyboard stuff going on, with a sound similar to THS’ best piano pieces.  After listening to Major General twice, I’m still not entirely sure of what I just heard.

Mainly, there’s way more guitar on this record than piano.  I definitely wasn’t expecting that.  In fact, the album starts up with a straight-up punk song (“Jeff Penalty”), but by no means sticks solely to that genre.  On the record, I heard Franz playing all the previously-mentioned instruments, plus the banjo and accordion.  Naturally, with instruments that varied, the music is all over the place.  The constant genre-switching does keep Major General from flowing as a whole, but most of the tracks on here stand well enough on their own to make that a moot point.