Mike Nicolai Woody Allen Stunt Footage (Garage D'or)

Woody Allen Stunt Footage (Garage D'or)

Record Reviews

Mike Nicolai

Woody Allen Stunt Footage (Garage D'or)

This absolutely has to be one of the all-time great album names. But rather than attempt to link Austin singer-songwriter Mike Nicolai's own dry and somewhat twisted sense of humor to that of the LP's namesake, we'll stick with the songs. As perfectly stated as any batch of rock tunes to come down I-35 all the way from Minneapolis (home base of Garage D'or) since the early Nineties, Stunt Footage is Nicolai at his best: rock music stripped to its essence, free of frills and bullshit, existing solely for the songs. His songs are about the stories: the rambling narratives of killing a cuckold in "Spider," a stranded couple in a farmhouse on "Sunday Drive." But Nicolai's songs are also about the transcendental blend of word and image, as laid painfully bare in "Lowly." Then, there are the rock songs. "Growing Down" and "Wear a Mask" bump Stunt Footage further from the realm of bedroom singer-songwriter recordings toward bedroom indie-rock recordings, the former perhaps even more comfortable in the garage. In the end, all of Nicolai's songs are rock songs, plain and simple, built of a vocabulary that leans heavily on folk, blues, and country. Wry, dry, with precise lyrics and a carefully toneless intonation, all very much based straight-up on the chords and the lyrics, the stories constantly push forward with no time for pointless instrumental maneuvering. With instrumental and production help from folks like Pete Droge and the Gourds' Jimmy Smith, Stunt Footage is a serious accomplishment and a solid rock album.

***.5

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