Franz Nicolay, ‘Major General’ (Fistolo)
Franz Nicolay has the best mustache in the Hold Steady, but his songwriting is in desperate need of similar creative twists. Stepping out solo, the energetic multi-instrumentalist — assisted by guests including Dresden Dolls’ Brian Viglione — does fine when he keeps things forceful: “Jeff Penalty” is a funny, specific rocker about watching the Dead Kennedys with other aging punks. But when Nicolay decelerates, his weaknesses (cheesy croon, misguided piano) emerge, resulting in over-earnest, loungey balladeering.
Listen: Franz Nicolay, “Jeff Penalty” (Live at WNRN)