19 Songs, 50 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Yet another prolific member of the Brooklyn music scene, Franz Nicolay spent five years with The Hold Steady and seven before that with chaotic cabaret-punkers World/Inferno Friendship Society before embarking on a solo journey. His working-class bark (seemingly tinged with a bit o’ Irish grit) bounces like a moshpit crowdsurfer atop tubas, fiddles, guitars, and the roiling rhythm section of drummer John Bollinger and bassist/tuba player George Rush. (Bollinger and Rush came from Guignol, another former band.) “The Hearts of Boston” races in the best pub-rock-by-way-of-The-Pogues fashion, after starting off deceptively and stealthily as something like a dirge. It’s a great entry to the rest of the album, which features steamrolling drums and fiddles, blaring brass and guitar, picked mandolin, and pounded piano. The clever, textural bridges between each track lend an artful touch and inject breathing space between each energetic tune. The rollicking “You Don’t Know I’m Here” evokes a raucous hoedown even in its sadness, and Emilyn Brodsky’s clarion delivery on “Take No Prisoners” is a lovely vehicle for Nicolay’s remarkable lyrics.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Yet another prolific member of the Brooklyn music scene, Franz Nicolay spent five years with The Hold Steady and seven before that with chaotic cabaret-punkers World/Inferno Friendship Society before embarking on a solo journey. His working-class bark (seemingly tinged with a bit o’ Irish grit) bounces like a moshpit crowdsurfer atop tubas, fiddles, guitars, and the roiling rhythm section of drummer John Bollinger and bassist/tuba player George Rush. (Bollinger and Rush came from Guignol, another former band.) “The Hearts of Boston” races in the best pub-rock-by-way-of-The-Pogues fashion, after starting off deceptively and stealthily as something like a dirge. It’s a great entry to the rest of the album, which features steamrolling drums and fiddles, blaring brass and guitar, picked mandolin, and pounded piano. The clever, textural bridges between each track lend an artful touch and inject breathing space between each energetic tune. The rollicking “You Don’t Know I’m Here” evokes a raucous hoedown even in its sadness, and Emilyn Brodsky’s clarion delivery on “Take No Prisoners” is a lovely vehicle for Nicolay’s remarkable lyrics.

TITLE TIME
4:16
0:19
6:12
0:25
3:11
0:33
4:04
1:00
4:36
0:46
4:20
0:45
4:03
0:32
4:28
0:42
3:58
0:46
5:40

About Franz Nicolay

Franz Nicolay is a multi-instrumentalist and producer based in Brooklyn. Absurdly prolific and constantly working, Nicolay has been involved as a session player, arranger, collaborator, touring entity, and long-term member of countless bands, as well as maintaining an active solo career. Nicolay began playing piano and accordion in the long-running circus punk collective World/Inferno Friendship Society in 2000 and played with the band for seven years. Another of his notable gigs was as keyboardist/backing vocalist for the booze-soaked working-class rock of the Hold Steady, a position he held from 2005 until 2010. In addition to these bands, Nicolay worked intermittently with Guignol, a Gypsy-punk band he founded with clarinetist Peter Hess in 2002, as well as Anti-Social Music, a nonprofit collective he founded in 2001 with a host of other N.Y.C.-area musicians and composers.

His solo work began with a limited collection of demos he sold at shows in 2007 entitled Black Rose Paladins. A more official debut came in the form of 2009's Major General, followed by Luck and Courage in 2010 and the Kickstarter-funded Do the Struggle in 2012. A slightly more traditionally grounded follow-up appeared in early 2015 with fourth album To Us, The Beautiful. His solo compositions tended more toward lyrical and storytelling songwriting, but incorporated elements from his eclectic and ravenous musical interests. Along with his more regular pursuits, Nicolay has made prominent guest appearances with a wide array of acts including Leftover Crack, the Dresden Dolls, and others. ~ Fred Thomas

Top Songs by Franz Nicolay

Top Albums by Franz Nicolay