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Open Season - Featuring the Songs of Paul Westerberg (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)

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Album Review

Paul Westerberg has been many things over the years and he was once notorious for being juvenile, but nothing he's done — not the prime years of leading the Replacements when they were notorious for being the drunkest band in the land, not the cleaned-up singer/songwriter shining up his tunes for the Singles soundtrack, not the aimless aging cult icon of recent years — ever suggested that he'd be the guy to provide songs for a CGI-animated film for kids. But Westerberg has long been a hero of many Gen-Xers who have long been determined to pay homage to their idol the way he saluted his own idol, Alex Chilton, by penning a song about him, so they've put him in movies — sometimes covertly, like naming the high school in Heathers after him, or sometimes explicitly, like his prominent music in Singles, which sounded nothing like the rest of the grunge on the soundtrack. And so his songs for the 2006 animated film Open Season aren't necessarily something new — it's more like the latest in a long line of attempts to break Paul Westerberg to a wider audience. It also fits into the 2000s trend of Gen-Xers making music for their kids now that they're parents themselves — see Dan Zanes and They Might Be Giants, among others — but where Zanes and TMBG cleverly spun their style, making music that appeals to kids and adults alike, Westerberg merely revives the sound of his early solo career, writing a set of songs that could have functioned as the sequel to 14 Songs. Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing — it's lighter and livelier than most of the music he's made since then, a good example of Westerberg's skills as a craftsman, plus a good kindred spirit to his two new songs for the Replacements' greatest-hits set Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? — but they don't quite feel right as songs for a children's film, whether it's the bouncy "Meet Me in the Meadow" and "Love You in the Fall," the ham-fisted humor of "Right to Arm Bears," or the mournful acoustic ballad "Good Day," whose chorus of "a good day is any day that you're alive" seems altogether too melancholy for a film with wacky animals (not to mention that the offhand reference to the Mats' "Hold My Life" feels wrong here). That said, they are strong songs — shorn of his conflicting desires to delve deep into his soul and to rock recklessly, Westerberg has crafted some good, tuneful, lightweight roots-pop songs, and they're easier to enjoy than a lot of his work of the past decade. That they happen to function as the soundtrack to a forgettable computer-animated film seems to be a testament to his eternal obstinate perversity and bad luck, and how his hardcore fans love him for it. After all, if he didn't have those fans, he never would have gotten this gig in the first place and never would have had the chance to flex his writing muscle this way, reviving pop skills that it seemed he had willfully forgotten. (Open Season also has two OK neo-new wave songs by Deathray, a Talking Heads oldie in "Wild Wild Life," and Pete Yorn singing a reprise of Westerberg's "I Belong," but this really is Paul's show all the way.)

Customer Reviews

Paul Is The Best

Wow! Paul westerberg is back. This guy is the greatest. Who the heck cares about the teddy bears picnic?

Teddy Bear PicNic Song

Why does this album not include the revised and hillarious Teddy Bear Picnic Song? Someone needs to add it to the list asap. Kids are talking about it everywhere: 'if you go down into the woods today you better get yourself some fries'... or how does it go? Fix SONY FIX!


Born: December 31, 1959 in Minneapolis, MN

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

After disbanding the Replacements in 1991, singer/songwriter Paul Westerberg resurfaced the following year with two songs on the Singles soundtrack. A year later, Westerberg released his first solo album, 14 Songs, in the summer of 1993. Although the record received generally positive reviews and spawned the modern rock hit "World Class Fad," the album failed to break the songwriter into the mainstream. Three years later, Westerberg released his second solo album, Eventually. Like 14 Songs and the...
Full bio

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