Mischief Brew / Franz Nicolay - Under the Table [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Mischief Brew / Franz Nicolay

Under the Table [7-inch] (2013)

Silver Sprocket

Although this EP was supposed to be released a number of years ago on another label that unfortunately aborted a number of projects amidst severe mismanagement (*silent glare*), thanks to Silver Sprocket, this baby has been stitched back up, stuck back in the womb to mature, and finally given a proper birth. A collaboration between Mischief Brew and Fanz Nicolay, Under the Table (which is a play off of what the aborted series originally was going to be called) features both artists covering classic tunes.

Nicolay takes the vocals on "I Drink," a Charles Aznavour cover. The song finds Nicolay contrasting an upbeat, swinging traditional European musical backdrop against a litany of the perils of drinking. Nicolay seems to be trying to stretch his vocals out from being a reflective folk singer to a singer of the classical pop sense. He's not Mario Lanza yet, but he's on the right road.

By contrast, the Mischief Brew's Erik Petersen-helmed "The Mary Ellen Carter," a Stan Rogers cover, place a modest, down tone backdrop against a song of righteous victory against the fates. Petersen chooses a restrained performance which gives the words a certain honestly, instead of forcing a certain emotion down our ears. Nicolay shows up again in the background, using his squeeze box as an adornment for Petersen's gentle strings, which gives the song a certain timelessness.

The package is topped off by some of Mitch Clem's best work. Using the art of the original studio recordings as a base, he places Mischief Brew and Nicolay in the place of the original crooners. By focusing on which makes each member of the respective bands unique looking and erasing other details, he reduces the artists to their component parts in order to vie insight, which is really, the purpose of a covers EP. Recommended for fans.