Owen Pallett – Heartland

pallettRating: ★★★☆☆

It seems that Owen Pallett has finally shed his video game moniker, suggesting to some that this album would show a wee bit of maturation for the orchestral singer/songwriter.  Now that we have the name cleared, let’s rest assured that Heartland is not an album about growing up, as it’s clear that Owen still holds true to a great deal of the playfulness he’s presented us with in the past, which makes him so endearing.

In the past, we’ve found Owen balancing minimal instrumentation atop his clever sequencing of violin loops.  Such stylistic flourishes brought great moments such as the trumpet blast on “This is the Dream of Win and Regine.”  Now, while he hasn’t abandoned the symphonic approach, not at all, he seems to be playing with more instrumentation.  Take “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt,” for example; a song which features orchestral backing, yet the strings sing to hang lightly in the background, allowing Owen’s voice, along with electric beats to push the song forward. “The Great Elsewhere” is similar in that it provides an electric organ as its background, reminiscent of some great work by DJ Shadow, just with Pallett’s voice cresting on the wave.

It says a lot for the artist when their voice can carry the entirety of a song, and such is Owen’s vocal skill.  “Keep the Dog Quiet,” which seems like a brooding scene in Fantasia, is wholly held up by his vocal performance.  He plays with his vocal range, not always trying to rise to the highest octave, an act which seems to bring a more complete balance to song itself.  But, in the end, in the last minute of the song, you can tell that Owen clearly has the chops to cut it in the music business outside of the muddied waters of independent music.

Still, for those die hard fans who loves the string arrangements as presented during the Final Fantasy years, rest assured you will find what you seek.  The opening track, “Midnight Directives,” picks up where the last album left off, reminding of us of where Pallett once was in his career.  Yet, you might find a further maturation in the classical sound he’s created when you get to “E is for Estranged.”  Gentle piano work accompanied by strings makes this one of the most beautiful moments on the album, not to mention one of the more special moments in Owen’s career.

Some might find it hard to dive right into the sound of Owen Pallett on Heartland, yet it’s a taste that takes time to fully absorb into your musical soul.  At a time when we’re enthralled with lo-fi and ambient electronic tunes, Mr. Pallett brings a refreshing touch to the musical world.  If you grew up playing an instrument, especially the band nerd types, this album is for you. His touches of classical music alongside pop music provide listeners with a certain sense of cleansing, one that we should all cherish as we begin a new year.


Download: Owen Pallett – Lewis Takes Action [MP3]

Mountain Goats @ Antones (11/18)


Date 11/18/09
Location Antones
Doors 8pm
Tickets $16 from Frontgate

You gotta know with this website that we’re going to talk about the Mountain Goats show when they stop through town.  So take yourself over to Antones on Wednesday night which is where we would be if that GUK show wasn’t coming to town.  Opening support will be provided by Final Fantasy and Larkin Grimm.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/02-genesis-3_23-1.mp3]

Download: Mountain Goats – Genesis 3:23 [MP3]

Final Fantasy Goes to “The Butcher”

Legendary, sort of, if you consider the Arcade Fire to be famous, orchestral genius. Owen Pallett has decided to give us a brand new song for our listening enjoyment. “The Butcher” seems a lot more like an old Disney musical score then his previous works, but I’ll let you decide.


Download: Final Fantasy – The Butcher [MP3]