MUSIC REVIEWS: Franz Nicolay, Roger O’Donnell, Vetiver, Underworld Soundtrack
Franz Nicolay’s voice is wonderfully animated and on Major General he dramatically uses it to paint rapidly moving scenes and emotions. At times more Broadway musical than anything, Nicolay plays a poetic actor to a rambunctious soundtrack of reckless yet well-crafted slashes of guitar, piano and wild drums. Sometimes leaning more towards mainstream 80’s rock and perfectly boisterous, Major General never moves outside of its own genre. “World/Inferno Vs. The End of the Evening” begins with a grandiose guitar enhanced ballad, the song is plush and moves about beautifully. Nicolay is based out of New York and is known as the keyboardist for The Hold Steady. His vocals are so full that this record could be played at the edge of skyscrapers and still hold up because they fill up so much space. Most tracks are hard rock driven with a feel good utopian rave about them. “This World is An Open Door,” later breaks into a drum and hand clap session with a staccato chorus that intensifies. The last track, appropriately titled, “I’m Done Singing,” is a mild jazz piano-club sentiment about frustrations with creativity within the life of most likely every musician that ever lived. It is hard not to be charmed by Nicolay’s passionate lyrics and his emotional delivery.
The Cure synth man Roger O’Donnell has got his Moogs and Macs a’firing on his new ten song CD Songs From The Silver Box. If your down for some ethereal synth measuring, soft leads, breathy vocals (but mostly instrumentals) “Box” will be right up your apple or the right bite for your tree (mix the metaphor that works best for you).
Though the first tunes here “The Prince of Time” and “Endlessly” kinda have that same sequence-y, mellow synth thang happening, things kick off nicely for me on the third song “In Your Hands Now.” A nice bubbly beat begins this one, there is some interesting vocals from Leka and by the middle of the song we are moving well. This is true of a lot of tunes on “Box,” an effect I know O’Donnell is no doubt trying for-setting the mood at the beginning of the tunes and all that-but I dare say making them sometimes a bit too long for their own good. “Falling” is an upbeat optimistic little number, with a really interesting synth lead and along with the title track, my favorite here. “Tiny Pieces Of You” and “Musique Pour Irakli” (the last and longest tune on the CD) are pretty solid, but to tell you the truth, I could just about do without Erin Lang’s too-breathy voice. I prefer the instrumentals here and think O’Donnell pulls them off with aplomb, but doesn’t need the girl singers and light lyrics. Songs From The Silver Box is a mellow synth gem worth owning.
Vetiver’s Tight Knit is anything but what its title suggests and that is what makes it refreshing. Breezy and light, this heavily acoustic guitar folk-inspired release presents a satisfying helping of finely written songs against a sonically beautiful landscape. It is a mellow album somewhere close to Beck’s Sea Change. Every string, pluck or play of instrumentation rings exquisitely, allowing the listener to relish in its distinct singular beauty, coupled with singer Andy Cabic’s voice and then enchanting the whole musical collective. Tight Knit is Vetiver’s fourth full length delight and is way lush. “Everyday” begins as a bouncy tune that unfolds into a sunny pop love song.
Cabic never gets caught up in anything that would detract from the beauty of this album. Every song is uniquely an acoustical gem. The up-tempo almost hipster appeal of “More of This” just solidifies Vetiver’s sweet approach to crafting songs that ring through a pleasurable amount of fidelity. “Another Reason to Go” starts off more haunting and dark and is made spicier with its sleek horn section. Tight Knit has a superiority about it that is as addicting as a summer day.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, is the latest music from the film series, and while you may come to expect more of the same where the soundtrack is concerned, prepare to be surprised. Released on Lakeshore records, the compilation features a few extraordinary hits. An unanticipated Milla Jovovich- the actress and model, sings along side Maynard James Keenan on the brilliantly remixed Cure song, “Underneath The Stars.” The results are startling; it’s by far the best track on the record. The Deftones, Alkaline Trio, and Ghosts on the Radio all provide standout tunes. The rest of this 16 track album is comprised of uniform staples of the Industrial-Darkwave genre- unwavering, extensive vamping and thudding beats, which taking into consideration the gothic nature of the movie, is perfect.