Thursday, April 29, 2010

It List: Thursday

Owen Pallett | Snowblink (Granada)

Despite the alluring title of Baroque Pop that I always saw lauded by the press in reference to Owen's previous moniker, Final Fantasy, I never really gave the guy a chance. Did this have anything to with the fact that he has a concept album based around Dungeons and Dragons named He Poos Clouds? Yes. But after hearing his vocals on the Gigi album, which I highly suggest you do, I gave Heartland a whirl, and was delightfully surprised. For those of you who complain no one is producing anything original these days, I think you might have found an exception here.

Pallett takes the same grand approach to pop orchestration that Van Dyke Parks is known for, but whereas Parks keeps things fanciful, Pallett takes a much more dramatic approach. Not in an annoyingly dramatic way likeXiu Xiu, but more akin to a musically verbose piece of classical music. Every song is knee-deep in clever and sometimes daunting orchestration. If this were the score to a family drama, there would be a dead little brother or sexual revelation every stanza. Fortunately for us he doesn't fall into the traps of similar artists by attempting to match the gravitas of the music with equally bombastic emotional grandstanding.

Lyrically I'm not sure what the hell is going on here. I read that Heartland is a concept album about a farmer or something but I would have never extracted that from the music. It's not that he is hard to understand, in fact I find his plainly sung directness endearing, but the lyrics (and there are a lot) are very thoughtful, with arty pretension. Not really something you will find yourself singing in the shower. Humming the tunes, maybe.

If the music sounds pretentious to you, that probably isn't something you are going to get past. One of my qualms with his previous work was exactly tha,t but I think that with this new album he has left behind the forced ideas of before and has really focused on the accessibility of the arrangements. If you are a fan of Left Banke or Arthur Russell I highly suggest you check the show out tonight. I have never seen him live and I am not quite sure how this is going to translate to a live setting, but from what I hear he puts on a fun show.

Betdat | Bodytronix | Cygnus | DJ R9 (The Cavern)

Ishi | Darktown Strutters | DJ Sober (The Loft)

Please everyone, let's all help Ishi get to Bonaroo this year. Hopefully they won't find their way back.

80's Night (Hailey's)

Awesome Color | Hair Police | Hawk vs. Dove (The Lounge)

Jonathan has been really looking forward to this one so you know it's gotta be good.

Those Darlins | John Wesley Coleman III | Jesus (City Tavern)


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