The multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and author Franz Nicolay will release his new album on Don Giovanni on November 11th. Lead single "New River, Spring For Me" out now everywhere.
“A natural-born star…really something special”—Pitchfork
FRANZ NICOLAY will release his new album New River on November 11, 2022. Nicolay is known as a longtime member of The Hold Steady and World/Inferno Friendship Society as well as for countless featured performances both live and in-studio with other artists including Against Me!, Dresden Dolls, Worriers and more.
Today, Nicolay has released the album's lead single along with a music video for "New River, Spring For Me" The track is available now across all streaming platforms and Bandcamp now, and the video can be seen HERE.
New River is available to pre-order HERE.
Franz Nicolay is a musician and writer living in the Hudson Valley, NY. In addition to records under his own name (most recently 2015’s To Us, The Beautiful!), he has been a member of the Hold Steady and World/Inferno Friendship Society, and recorded or performed with dozens of other acts.
Nicolay's first book, The Humorless Ladies of Border Control, was named a “Season’s Best Travel Book” by The New York Times. His second book, the novel Someone Should Pay For Your Pain was called “a knockout fiction debut” by Buzzfeed; and was named one of Rolling Stone “Best Music Books of 2021” (“finally, the great indie-rock novel... like Dostoyevsky in a DIY punk space”).
One would think that between writing and releasing his acclaimed debut novel, recording albums and touring with The Hold Steady, writing journalism about the Ukrainian resistance to Russian invasion, performing session work, and teaching as a professor of music and creative writing at Bard College would keep Franz Nicolay plenty busy. For awhile, it did. But as he reflects on the period of time writing and recording the songs that would make up his forthcoming album - New River - Nicolay stated:
"For several years after my last record, I needed a break, and actively tried to keep from writing songs. But the combination of working on new Hold Steady material, writing my second book, and having unexpected time on my hands like everyone else in spring 2020 eventually primed the pump for a record’s worth (including a co-write with my Hold Steady bandmate Steve Selvidge). The years off had constituted a time in which I thought I was finished as a musician; they were time characterized by the loss of several musician friends to suicide both acute and de-facto, and by consideration of the cost of 'working the art muscle.' I was approaching a familiar sort of life crossroads which I’ve traditionally addressed on the principle of “blow it all up and see if that fixes things.'”
The material was assembled in the period of time between April 2020 and spring 2021 and recorded at Atomic Garden in Oakland with drummer Ara Babajian (the Slackers) and bassist Frank Piegaro (Worriers); with help from friends including Jeff Rosenstock and Mike Huguenor (Death Rosenstock), Deanna Belos (Sincere Engineer), Lauren Denitzio (Worriers), Peter Hess (Philip Glass Ensemble), Steve Selvidge (The Hold Steady), and Todd Beene (Lucero, Chuck Ragan).
The album's coda, "New River, Spring For Me" is out now everywhere. While it is the closing track on the album, it was also the last song of the collection to have been composed, giving both thematic and emotional closure to the record. Of the track Nicolay states,
Pre-Order New River
"It’s a hopeful song in its way, that takes in the past and sees a little room to plant a future. The closing line is from Anne Carson’s translation of Sappho, and I think captures some of the emotional ambivalence of the project. Ara Babajian (the Slackers) played some particularly soulful drums, Peter Hess (Philip Glass Ensemble) wrote a fantastic horn arrangement, and Steve Selvidge (The Hold Steady) added the tasty licks."
Michigan punk darlings She/Her/Hers will release their eponymous album on October 14th. Originally leader Emma Grrl's solo creative project, this is the band's first full band record, building a fuller sound from its original acoustic incarnation.
Today, they released the single "To Do Lists (Color Coded)", which harkens back to the project's folk-punk roots while broadening its scope to the Regina Spektor type balladry it's equally indebted to.
She/Her/Hers is the creative project of songwriter Emma Grrrl, beginning in 2015 as a vessel to discuss her coming out as a transgender woman. On her first two releases Emma channeled the experiences of coming out and trans life into raw and personal folk punk, recording mostly at a friend’s studio whenever they had surprise availability. The sudden nature of these sessions meant they often captured stripped down versions of the songs, arranged to be quickly and easily recorded.
On her upcoming self-titled LP Emma recontextualizes these songs through the reflective lens of hindsight. After recording the original versions at impromptu sessions, Emma entered the studio for 2 weeks with the intention of rerecording a selection of tracks with the fullness that they were originally imagined.With support of drummer Cody Kutilla, Emma built out the arrangements for a full band. Having the opportunity to develop these songs with intent and time, they evolved into something new entirely. Tracks like “Internet Ads” and “Family” have pivoted from their original folk punk fury to dynamic chamber pop confessionals. Others like “Sweaters in Summer” are beefed up with trumpets and gang vocals. Pianos, horns and woodwinds fleet in between theatrical vocals and punchy guitars, coming together as a more versatile and expressive version of these songs.
Thematically, the LP closes its focus in on the early days of Emma’s coming out process, telling stories that reflected where she was in her life at the time they were written. In returning to these songs with newfound perspective, Emma infuses them with grandiosity and new life. With so much happening between the writing and rerecording of these songs, it is fitting that these songs have been transformed through the rerecording process. “Transitioning (To a Life Without You)” begins as a traditional power-pop, but explodes into a heavy halftime breakdown complete with fuzzed out bass and guitar heroics. 2018’s “Giving Up is Sooo Last Year” is split into two parts, the Django Reinhardt inspired “(Giving Up Interlude)” and the full band jazz romp “Giving Up”. “Gender is Boring”, which was originally recorded as a folky gender manifesto on 2018’s Grrrl Angst, is transformed and expanded into emotionally maximalist piano pop. Meshed between the keys and horns are crowdsourced gang vocals from dozens of online trans friends and fans. Going all in on revisiting old songs, Emma even pulls out a cover of “Internet Ads”, a song written by her friend Scout Seshimo of the band Bogsey. Having sung backup vocals on the original track, a synthy folk punk tune, Emma reimagines “Internet Ads” as a Vanessa Carlton-esque piano ballad. In re-examining this time of her life through old songs, Emma goes a step beyond increasing the fidelity, adding a sense of reflection, clarity, and pride.
She/Her/Hers Track List
1. To-Do Lists (Color Coded)
3. Internet Ads
4. Sweaters In Summer
5. Giving Up
6. Gender Is Boring
8. Transitioning (to a life without you)
9. Nvr Pass
10. I Think I Finally Love Myself