FEIST: OPEN SEASON

By Shain Shapiro

I am a bit weary of remixes. While they are often marketed as an aperitif to an upcoming release to placate fans, I see them more as a shameless cash grab meant at boosting record sales without boosting song selection. It is merely a case where the context bothers me regardless of the content, even though there are many eponymous remix albums out there worth trolling over to the local record shop and grabbing. Still, the majority of remixes to which the mainstream has access are crap, as recent examples from Madonna and Elvis Presley – rest his soul – exemplify. Therefore, when Feist's brand new collection of ragtag b-sides, remixes, collaborations, and demos entitled Open Season: Remixes and Collabs surfaced, a literal question mark emerged above my head, wondering why Feist felt the need to release a pseudo-new album in between the brilliant Let it Die and one due in January. I definitely hoped the quality of the remixes and collaborations would dissipate my contextual red flag, and to be honest, I was genuinely excited at the prospect of new material from Feist. Yet after digesting each song half-a-dozen times, I fail to comprehend why, for any other reason than money, this album was released at all.

There are some great songs on this collection, but very few of them differ from Let it Die. The few examples worth noting are the gorgeous, solo piano take on "One Evening" provided by Gonzales, "Snow Lion," which is unique to the record, and a lovely interpretation of "Mushaboom" by lo-fi wizards The Postal Service. The heightened digitized tempo juxtaposes perfectly with Feist's languid croon, producing a rendition as good as, if not better than, the original. Lastly, the soft-spoken, acoustic version of "Inside and Out" with Apostle of Hustle is a laggard treat, differing from the electro-pop-tinged original by stripping down the arrangement and featuring Feist's gorgeous pipes even more. Her voice is so good that often next-to-no accompaniment at all is best.

But that is about it. "Mushaboom" is featured an astounding four times while you get "One Evening" and "Gatekeeper" twice, adding up to more than half the record. No matter how much you love Feist, four versions of the same song, done in a reasonably similar fashion each time, is tiresome. In addition, other than the aforementioned, there is no other track on Open Season that outshines Let it Die or takes the track into different terrain. Two versions of "Mushaboom" almost butcher the song, most notably on a confusing, hip-hop-infused remix with K-os that adds nothing lyrically. Furthermore, "Tout Doucement," another lovely, Parisian-fuelled ditty, is so close to the original that I believe they just copied and pasted the track from one album to another. It is not that Open Season struggles musically, because that is not the case. No matter what Feist sings, it comes off sweeter than acid-laced tupelo honey, but on its own merit, it is not a worthwhile collection. Let it Die is mesmerizing; Open Season is just leaching off its predecessor's popularity. I am still weary of remixes.

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[Published on: 9/13/06]

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