Posts Tagged ‘Beirut’



[Picture of Final Fantasy's Owen Pallett]Sometimes I come across a name all the time, and that is the case these days with Owen Pallett. For me he’s everywhere.

I probably first came across this name back in 2007 when I heard Arcade Fire’s “Neon Bible”.  It’s a funny name: Owen Pallett. The chap is an overtly homosexual violin player and singer. OK, not my usual bag.

Then I spotted that he appeared on “Joys” from “Worried Noodles” a compilation of David Shrigley’s lyrics set to music back in 2007 (see my post on David Shrigley).

I went to a concert to see St. Vincent last year, she was in support of Grizzly Bear — and up cropped Owen Pallett’s name yet again (see my post on Grizzly Bear, and my review of the St Vincent-Grizzly Bear gig) — Owen did the string arrangements and stuff for Grizzly Bear’s “Yellow House”, and is associated with Beirut from a few years ago (see my post on Beirut’s The Gulag Orkestar).

I have his album “Heartland” which is just out, and tonight I spotted A tweet by Hue & Cry

Greg: Hav 2 agree with all the gr8 reviews. Owen Pallett’s “Heartland” album is a masterpiece. On my 4th listen :)    9:46 AM Jan 18th   from web

This was the tipping point I think, it forced me to post here — and to look up YouTube! Here’s a vid uploaded of him with just a violin – live — doing a Joanna Newsom song:

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The thing is, he’s a clever cookie — not just a violin player, but a graduate in musical composition. This explains why he keeps cropping up in all sorts of places — in my mind, usually associated with East Coast American/ New York and pretty “gay” acts such as  MikaOwen did the string arrangements for his album “The Boy Who Knew Too Much“, and The Pet Shop Boys (their “Yes” album from last year).

You can pretty-much guess what Owen Pallett/ Final Fantasy will sound like just from the associations, but he is definitely worth a listen; the musicianship is high, and it makes a nice change to hear something fresh! Enjoy!

Here’s an amateur vid of him playing live the Jennifer Rush/ Celine Dion “Power of Love” on YouTube: It’s just him and a violin, and it just ought not to work… but it does!  Brilliant!

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I have just been listening to the recently released “Gulag Orkestar” by Beirut.

I have listened through once and have dashed off the keys quickly for you all…

  1. The Gulag Orkestar (D minor);
  2. Prenzlauerberg (Eb minor)
  3. Brandenburg (D minor);
  4. Postcards from Italy (F maj);
  5. Mount Wroclai (Idle Days) (Bb min);
  6. Rhineland (Heartland) (F maj);
  7. Scenic World (D maj);
  8. Bratislava (A maj);
  9. The Bunker (C maj);
  10. The Canals of Our City (C maj);
  11. After the Curtain (D maj).

I hope that’s right.

It is a quirky album for sure, but strangely hypnotic too.  How best to describe this? It is a bit like lo-fi Divine Comedy mixed with Beck Hanson, and it must be said that Mr. Condon sounds rather similar to Stephen Merritt (Magnetic Fields).

Odd beats, lots of trumpet, almost out-of-tune honky pianos, and even ukuleles, yet it is almost Cuban at time, and somehow it is Eastern — Russian and Balkan as well — possibly with touches of Turk and Greek. It’s so odd.

It is the Rodchenko of music somehow.

What’s odder is that it’s the product of a US American teenager! My goodness! Zach Condon must really have studied Eastern European music to produce an album of glockenspiel and accordion, of tambourines and mandolins.

It’s been called Balkan crossover music!

What I like about it is that it is different, it tries to be different in a world of X-factor pop idols and pro formas. As a result, this guy may make polkas and klezmers cool – – and that’s a strange thought!

I think “The Canals of Our City” shows his vocal quality, But “Postcards from Italy” is probably the easiest to get into.  “Scenic World” is funny in that the riff is U2’s “With or Without You!”.

I must say that while I could listen to this and this sort of thing from time to time, it is not something I would need all day, every day!

For it’s evocative moods, it’s atmosphere, give it a listen or two just to clean out your ears from all that pop and rock, flip though some old photographs and return to the authentic and the homespun.