Back to Blog

DLC Week of 1/19: JW Francis and Steely Dan

JW Francis “Going Home To A Party” and Steely Dan “Reelin’ In The Years” both employ top-notch musicianship and songwriting to craft a palpably peaceful sonic atmosphere. Be sure to check out this new DLC debuting this Thursday in the Rock Band Music Store.

Self-described on his YouTube channel as “a bedroom recording artist who writes musical diaries about living with his best friend in New York City,” JW Francis fashions warm, inviting music that is both instantly relatable and casually beguiling. “Going Home To A Party” starts off with a full-instrumentation bang (if “bang”s can be as chill as this track’s cozy ambiance) defined by gently chirping synth notes supported by understated and persistent bass, off-beat guitar comping, and driving drums that gradually intensify to incorporate a 16th-note hi-hat pattern leading up to the chorus – and what a chorus! Catchy, yearning, and delivered with impact via Francis’ mellow, yet deceptively potent vocals. In fact, every musical component leading up to those memorable refrains increase in emotional heft – much like the sensation of… well, of preparing for and then actually going to an eagerly anticipated party! Of course, in this case the “party” awaits the song’s narrator at home, which adds a note of deeply personal yearning to the whole proceeding. “Going Home To A Party” is a compact, well-defined composition that compellingly evokes mood and space in a subtle manner that speaks to Francis’ offhandedly confident skill-set as a writer. At around the three-minute mark everything abruptly fades away, save for a few final parting notes on an organ. At that point, odds are you’ll find yourself unwittingly scrolling back to the beginning to experience the entire enjoyable sonic journey once again. How can a song somehow be both nostalgic-sounding and forward-thinking? I sure can’t tell you, but JW Francis has it figured out. You’ll have fun playing (and re-playing) along to this chilled-out, charismatic masterwork!

“Reelin’ In The Years” by Steely Dan is a defining song that exemplifies the rogue genius of this highly idiosyncratic rock/jazz/whatever-they-feel-like-tackling (these guys had the chops to do pretty much anything they set their minds to) musical outfit. Originally released as the second single from 1972’s Can’t Buy a Thrill, the track’s boundless energy and effortless smoothness sent it to number 11 on the Hot 100 chart at the time, but its many strengths have made it an enduring staple that has had a far greater impact on the public consciousness in the decades since. Session ace Elliot Randall’s distinctive, slippery guitar lead line starts things off before the entire band kicks in at around the 3-second mark – and in many ways that guitar part is the defining element of “Reelin’ In The Years,” weaving around, over, and beneath Donald Fagen’s honky-tonk piano and expertly casual vocals, while Walter Becker’s rock-solid bass work and drummer Jim Hodder’s jaunty beat create an infectiously bouncy shuffle groove. The chorus is everything a good refrain should be: memorable, impactful, insidiously appealing. But, seriously – back to the guitar. At around 1:57 begins one of the single most iconic guitar solos in recorded rock and roll history. Rare is it that an instrumental component of such complexity is more notable than a song’s chorus, but such is the case here. 15 seconds in, an overdubbed guitar harmonizes with the main line and you’ll think to yourself, “Wow, this is pretty cool!” – but wait, there’s more! At the 2:27 mark, the “real” solo – a soaring, lyrical gem of staggering beauty – begins in earnest and… words can’t do it justice. There’s a reason the guitar solo from “Reelin’ In The Years’ is regularly included amongst the finest, most brilliant, and notable of all time. Additional six-string pyrotechnics (somehow even more proficient!) are to be found at the end of the song. Good luck playing along with this one, kids! 

JW Francis “Going Home To A Party” and Steely Dan “Reelin’ In The Years” are available for $1.99 each.

  • JW Francis – “Going Home To A Party”
  • Steely Dan – “Reelin’ In The Years”

VIDEO: Rock Band 4 DLC Week of 1/19: JW Francis and Steely Dan



*Please note that this week’s DLC tracks will be available for purchase on Thursday, January 19th.