The last several months have brought the music faithful three different Strokes side-projects, the newest being from bassist Nikolai Fraiture, aptly titled Nickel Eye. All this output makes one wonder what could have been accomplished had all the players remained as prolific as they seem to be. But, this one leaves some questions for listeners.
Opening the album, it’s clear that Niklai holds his instrument of choice dear to his heart, as the bass-work is precisely what he provided listeners with when he took to the stage with his mates.
Then comes “Back From Exile,” the first appearance of an acoustic guitar. It’s not that the songs aren’t enjoyable, as they surely are just that, but you start to go elsewhere with the music as you listen. His voice sounds oddly like his band-mate’s, which leads one to wonder precisely what Julian thinks of his friends finding replacements for his vocal styling. Still, the second song featuring acoustic guitar, “Fountain Avenue” definitely is worth a listen, possibly over and over again.
Enter “Dying Star,” a possible suggestion at where The Strokes could have gone, or were going, or are going for that matter. It’s winding guitars and hurried sound seemingly fit the mold of that other band. It’s at this point that it all begins to slowly make sense. “Brandy of the Damned” has a similar bounce to that of Fab’s band, Little Joy, but still definitely has a quality unmistakably similar to the central band. That is where you begin to figure it out.
Nikolai seems to have a lot of difficulty moving away entirely from the sound he helped to establish. Whereas you feel like Albert Hammond and Little Joy have both established themselves, distancing their sound in certain ways away from their alma mater, Nikolai flirts with walking away, but never quite goes the distance here. He can’t seem to eclipse the huge shadow that looms large over his career.
That being said, the last few songs, “Another Sunny Afternoon” and “Hey, Thats No Way to Say Goodbye” both push those boundaries just a little bit, in a folkier manner. It’s at the end of the album, which makes it come off as an afterthought, though you’ll surely enjoy “Another Sunny Afternoon.”
While listening to this album, you will definitely find a lot of it’s appeal, as there are many songs worthy of making your favorite mix-tape. Yet, this album, is not one where you ask for more from Nickel Eye. It’s pleasant and enjoyable, but where you wish Little Joy had another record, here your okay with just a few listens.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/07-brandy-of-the-damned.mp3]