This 3 CD set was born when I began the adventure of writing and recording 50 songs in 50 days - one song a day. If you play it loud in your car, headphones, or stereo you’ll hear the ambulances, buses, and traffic roaring by on the FDR drive.


Life after Irony: FDR & The New Deal

FDR is the new incarnation of NYC songwriter Felix Mcteigue. He was incarnated when Felix embarked on what he called “a self-imposed, all bets are off, drive everyone in my life crazy, just for the hell of it” project to write and record fifty songs in the span of fifty days. When the smoke cleared, what emerged from his Herculean creative effort was a record called (of course) The New Deal, a thoroughly original d.i.y. masterpiece comprised of thirty-two songs on three separate discs.

Since the New deal came out, FDR has shared the stage with Architecture from helsinki, the Blow, Rogue Wave and The Honey Brothers.

FDR engineered the record on his home
equipment in addition to laying down all the instruments and harmony parts himself. I once heard him say, describing his role in
producing a friend’s record, that he thought of arranging each song
like rolling a tight little cigarette in order to get the nicotine
(song) to the smoker (listener) as quickly and enjoyably as
possible. This is a good way of thinking about FDR’s own album: it’s
a pack of songs that are straightforward, joyful, and powerfully
The songs are brief and refreshingly direct. Their economy (to use
a cold word) must have come as result of the creative duress of the
50/50 project; there just wasn’t time to cloak the naked, beating
heart of these songs in cleverness and sophistication. Musically,
this means no-holds-barred melodies that seem to be all hook. The
instrumental parts (and there are many instruments: drums, bass,
guitars, piano, organ) range from the catchy to the sublime, and the
hasty, lively way they’re recorded gives the whole record an
exuberant, human, off-the-cuff sound. This is an especially
beautiful and in fact novel thing when it comes to FDR’s use of
electronic voicings and drum loops because he uses these digital
tools as though they were lovable, fallible old acoustic
instruments-- again, no time for the compulsive perfectionism and
tranciness that are so easy to fall into with digital recording.
Lyrically, the songs have an earnestness you’d be hard pressed to
find in any genre today: “I can hear you breathing clear across
town. I have learned to forget I have been let down.” Or: “Best time
I ever had! Never felt more alive! Than driving with you darling on
the FDR Drive!” When they venture toward the abstract, FDR’s lyrics
take on the simple striking imagery of haiku: “Snowflake on the
asphalt… Ice cube on the boardwalk…” Out of all of this FDR emerges
as a sort of protagonist figure; a man who wears his heart on his
sleeve without coming across as even vaguely emo; a manly,
vulnerable, admirable character who knows who he is and what he wants
and expresses it the best way he knows how.
Here I’m reminded of something I read in an acting textbook by the
Russian method actor Stanislavski years ago. The essence of it was
that, contrary to the notions of many young actors, one can’t bring
an audience to tears simply by acting sad. Only when an audience
comes to identify with a character’s desire and that desire is
unattained or thwarted does the audiences come into the ecstasies of
sorrow and rage the actor aims to inspire. FDR is above all,
desirous. Also, he is optimistic, never giving way to the petulance
and melodrama (“acting” sad) and that bogs so much music down. He
never succumbs to irony, that most supreme and fashionable form of
cowardice. As his audience we don’t know whether FDR is a winner or
a loser, whether he gets the girl, whether he is as free in reality
as he is in his songs… but we want him to be! We want it badly
because we see in his naked desire our own submerged ones! Their
subterranean striving for the sun. “Spring can’t be stopped!”
FDR’s contagious optimism is inspirational; it is also
revolutionary. The process by which the album was made makes d.i.y.
look good again-- like the liberating, empowering concept that it is
and not like an excuse for bad cover art— Who says you have to be a
drummer to play the drums? Who says you need a recording engineer?
There is a joyful innocence in the way FDR mixes live instruments
with digital ones that hearkens back to the early eighties, when
digital recording technology was still new and delightful and hadn’t
yet come, as it somehow did come, to represent the dark forces of
modernity (are you with me?). Visa-vis the political realm, FDR did
mention during one late-night conversation his new feelings about the
potential of the Democratic Party and what his namesake and the real
New Deal represented to him. All shades of the left will appreciate
the vital importance of breaking out of a reactionary political cycle
in which we define our values in reaction to those of t


FDR - The New Deal

WERS - Boston, MA
Acoustic Cafe - syndicated Radio show based in Ann Arbor, MI

Set List

FDR takes the stage switching from guitars to bass to keyboard and drums. Dressed in black - black hat, black sunglasses, FDR paces the stage, putting a foot on the monitor with his hand above his head singing his heart out as the crowd claps along and stamps their feet. Silouetted against the video screen behind him FDR cuts a heroic, mysterious figure.