by carl wilson

Brass, Buttons 'n' Bows (feat. Pallettwatch!)

Balkan Beat Box, left, and Owen Pallett, still aka, for now, Final Fantasy.

With perfect timing to coincide with the past few days' talk about They Shoot Horses, Don't They and "circus punk", the redoubtable Mr. Josh Kun comes on with a grand NY Times piece on the global brass band. There may be plenty of albums that are arguably ruined by strings, but there are few kinds of music that cannot been improved with the addition of a horn section (except the obvious watered-down-Clarence-Clemons-sax trend of the Eighties, and even then I'm not sure most of that stuff would have been any better without its saxophonic spray-on cheeze). A rock band comes on with a trumpet player, they've immediately got my attention. Just thinking of examples that have appeared on this site the past couple of weeks, Russia's Auktyon would lose half its wild gypsy-ska flavour without its horns and sound more like the unfortunate Aquarium; and then there's that heart-puncturingly gorgeous (French?) horn solo on Billy Bragg's Levi Stubbs' Tears - one of those horn parts so key to the feeling of the song that the singer will do a pursed-lip horn-mimicking rendition of it live if a horn player isn't available. I could go on.

To give strings their due: I've just obtained a copy of Final Fantasy's He Poos Clouds, coming out May 9. It's as giddy a leap beyond Has a Good Home as forecast - but dense enough that I want to do some more listening before I start bloviating (or blogviating). You can join me in my listening if you look, f'r'instance, here or here. Warning: Don't expect indie-pop. Later: I forgot to mention that Final Fantasy performs in Toronto today in The Man Show, curated by Owen himself at The Music Gallery, with Matias, Mantler and Mortimercy, at 4 pm (already past, actually) and 8 pm.

Also, some people are wondering where Owen's MySpace page went, and the answer is that something got Murdoch-era MySpaceTM spooked about legalities around the name "Final Fantasy" and they pre-emptively and summarily disappeared it. But there has been no lawsuit, and I'm sure some workaround will be dreamed up tout de suite. I sometimes lapse into glossolaliac meanderings on what Owen might rename the project if he ever did get sued, leaving out the frequently nominated Penultimate Fantasy: Vile Pantsdisease? Phial Phantasm? Filial Bananaseat? Fidel's Panda Sneeze? Clearly I am no help here.

Side dish: I'm so happy to learn that what's brought Canadian (and specifically Toronto) music into Marcello's life is a new love. Anyone who has followed his writing mourning Laura through music and prose can only be moved and warmed to know that there's joy in his life again. A bright augur for the rest of us. A hint to his unnamed Canadian amour: I'd be thrilled to read Marcello on Final Fantasy.

| Posted by zoilus on Sunday, April 09 at 02:49 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (7)



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Posted by Malachi on May 2, 2006 09:48 PM



When I listen to HPC, I feel like I should be viewing it live on stage, as an opera, or at the very least, along with some interpretive dance. It definitely has that vibe about it, rather than the 'pop album' vibe.

And I'm sure Owen would be tickled to hear that.

Posted by ryan on April 10, 2006 12:37 PM



I may have been a little too harsh on Has a Good Home. I actually quite like the album but I believe the three songs I named, along with a couple others, tower above the rest.

I bought the album after hearing Final Fantasy for the first time at Ottawa's Bluesfest. I was blown away by Owen's live performance and did not hesitate to fork over $20 for the album. After my first listen I was a little disappointed with the "filler". I suppose his live show brought my expectations just a little too high. I must admit, however, that it has grown on me since that time. "The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead" still remains my favourite song by Final Fantasy (although "Song Song Song" is slowly creeping up).

In short, for me (and that's the key isn't it?), Has A Good Home is a good album with three or four really great songs. He Poos Clouds, however, is a great album from start to finish. It is better structured and has a smaller (better) selection of songs that work well together.

Posted by Jonathan on April 9, 2006 11:53 PM



After the initial...."this is too showy offy"......I really became addicted to Has A Good Home. It is a great album. It's hard to keep the violin that interesting......I'm excited to hear what's next!

Posted by knitgirl on April 9, 2006 10:47 PM



You're mad, Has A Good Home is beautiful as an album. No filler. And I agree with what's said so far on The Poo Album: way more complicated and dense and chewy. Need to chew on it more.

Posted by spitz on April 9, 2006 07:42 PM



I've heard a leaked copy of He Poos Clouds and can safely attest that it is a far stronger album than Has a Good Home. For me, Has a Good Home never worked that well as an album per se. It had a few great tracks (Dream of Win and Regine, The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead, That's When the Audience Died) and a bunch of filler in between.

In comparison, He Poos Clouds really has no stand-out tracks. At least not to the same extent as his previous album. Instead, all the songs work together to create a superior cohesive whole. As you said, Owen drops the indie-pop sound and approaches the songs with a more "classical" structure. The arrangements are far more complex, and I think, far more satisfying than its predecessor's.

Posted by Jonathan on April 9, 2006 06:27 PM



First you introduce me to the phrase "hopeful monsters", and then you reference glossolalia? That is some great wordsmithin'

Also, he could always change the name to that of another role-playing game, like Chrono Trigger or Dragon Warrior...well, actually, he couldn't, because they're both published by the same company as Final Fantasy now. Curses!

Posted by chris r. on April 9, 2006 04:42 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson