Owen Pallett is a violinist, pianist, singer, and lyric writer going under the moniker of Final Fantasy - referencing "The games [which] are ridiculously overwrought and convoluted emotionally," which he believes his music shares a similarity with. With two solo albums under his belt, Has A Good Home, and He Poos Clouds (a tentative concept album based around the spells within Dungeons and Dragons), he has established himself as an interesting and varied songwriter. He also co-wrote the string arrangements on both Arcade Fire albums, subsequently raising his profile among the indie crowd. His live performance also displays his adept skill at creating intelligent compositions, showcasing his talent for the creation and layering of textures. Live, he uses a sampler controlled by foot pedals in order to loop layers over layers, replicating the broad and ambitious strokes of his albums.
Another thing which his live shows are infamous for, are his superb renditions of songs not his own. Many of these are fantastic and show the playful, and admittedly gay, side of his personality, (evidenced by the Mariah Carey cover), and his appreciation of other musical acts, often making the songs more gentle and precious, (see: the Bloc Party and Arcade Fire covers). Some of the songs below have shoddy sound quality, stripped from YouTube videos - marked with an asterisk - but are still worth a listen. Also included is the album version of his Joanna Newsom cover, "Peach, Plum, Pear", featured on ...Has A Good Home.
Sweet Fantasy (live Mariah Carey cover)
No Cars Go (live Arcade Fire cover)
This Modern Love (live Bloc Party cover)
Paris 1919 (live John Cale cover)*
An Actor's Revenge (live Destroyer cover)*
Interview (live Simon Bookish cover)*
ABC (live Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark cover)*
Peach, Plum, Pear (Joanna Newsom cover)
Other songs he's known to have covered:
Joni Mitchell - Sex Kills
Xiu Xiu - Fabulous Muscles
...and a variety of songs off Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark album Dazzle Ships, including the aforementioned ABC.
Being a former student of composition at the University of Toronto, as well as understanding intrinsically what makes a song great, are two things which lend themselves well to his remixing skills - a talent that he has in abundance, and which will be further showcased on the forthcoming Stars remix album, Do You Trust Your Friends, on which he will be remixing "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead". His remix of Grizzly Bear's "Don't Ask" remains one of my favourite songs. The "Black History Month" remix features on the fantastic Death From Above 1979 remix album, Romance Bloody Romance. On the song he adds an orchestral emotional knife, stripping away some of the immediate dance-ability.
Final Fantasy Remixes
Death From Above 1979 - Black History Month (Girl On Girl Featuring Final Fantasy Revision)
Grizzly Bear - Don't Ask (Final Fantasy Remix)
All this talk of Final Fantasy makes me want to go out, today!, and buy a violin!, and learn to play!, and then sing 'til my little heart's content. It also makes me think of how I saw him at ABC in Glasgow and thought the OMD cover was especially for us. He played his Theme Song for the first time ever also - that was special. Memories are great, aren't they?
What Do You Think Will Happen Next? (live WFMU)
This song is one of my favourite recorded live performances. As soon as he starts insisting, "YES I CAN! YES I CAN! YES I CAN!", I was sold. But to then go on and go crazy, ad-lib the whole vocal, draw for breath, mimic a child or a bird or the highest person in the whole world looking down from his plateau and just smiling - there's a smile! in the vocals! and a laugh! - and then to finish off with "it's going to be a bright, bright, sunshiny day" !!!... simply put, it's beautiful.
With regards to Arcade Fire's new album: I'm still unsure. It's obviously good... but how good?
No Cars Go
...for comparative and evaluation purposes. [Buy]