Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday Music: Feist

Friday, I had front row tickets for Feist. Thursday, my apartment saw the arrival of a new instrument that happens to be identical to the glockenspiel in the video below. So who else could I pick this Sunday?



"I Feel It All" and a snippet of "The Park". Leslie Feist. Live on Jimmy Kimmel.

There isn't much to be said about Feist that most in-the-know music fans haven't already heard. She gets her share of nay-sayers, particularly among some recording enthusiasts who dislike the odd mix of close-mic'd and room sound that characterize both Let It Die and The Reminder. The alternation between the baroque pop and the understated acoustic ballads seems particularly suited for enchanting both the average listener and the indie cynic.

I was a late comer to Feist. Broken Social Scene released their first album in 2001, when the music world was still in the grips of the mindless pop music that the end of the 90s had ushered in. I was firmly convinced that I was never going to hear a new rock band I'd like and more or less quit looking. That attitude changed in time to hear Feist last spring during the buzz that The Reminder started generating upon its release.

An ex once criticized me for having a double standard with pop music. I like both the simple (Violent Femmes, Morphine) and the heavily orchestrated (Belle and Sebastian, Tortoise), but I complain about anything that I perceive as falling in-between. Most middle ground comes off as being either not genuine or not creative enough. Although I wouldn't call her studio albums sloppy, Feist represents the sort of pop music that captures both of those sides: a sort of careful simplicity. Deliberate understatement in wide open chords, interweaving counter melodies, and lush harmonic extensions all where appropriate. I'm not sure how much of that is Gonzales and the rest of the band and how much is Feist herself, but the end product is beautiful.

The show Friday night was fantastic. Feist had a visual artist in her company who created shadow images on a large screen behind the band.

If you like that sound too, I recommend you check out not only more Feist (including this KCRW performance), but Gonzales's "Solo Piano" album.

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