Category Archives: Movie

New Bond Theme

The rumors have been flying over the past few months, speculating on the theme song for the new James Bond 007 movie Quantum of Solace. But now it’s settled. On November 7th, we’ll hear the first duet in Bond history. Jack White (of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs) and Alicia Keys will perform Another Way to Die while Daniel Craig flashes across the credits. Very exciting.

Jack wrote the song and will also play drums; see here for his other appearances on soundtracks. The soundtrack will be out October 28th, featuring the duet plus the score by David Arnold.

In the trailer, double-oh-Craig appears to be exploring the darker, more troubled, and more vengeful Bond as featured in the Ian Flemming novels. I hope the complexities of the character in this era of the movie franchise are compelling enough to trump the glossy characature of previous years/actors.

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Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder has announced solo tour dates, featuring the tunes he penned for the Into the Wild soundtrack. I feel strongly about this disc. The shows should be excellent. Buy tickets here.

August 1 ~ Boston ~ Opera House
August 2 ~ Boston ~ Opera House
August 4 ~ New York ~ United Palace Theatre
August 5 ~ New York ~ United Palace Theatre
August 7 ~ Newark ~ Performing Arts Center
August 9 ~ Montreal ~ Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier
August 10 ~ Montreal ~ Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier
August 12 ~ Toronto ~ Massey Hall
August 13 ~ Toronto ~ Massey Hall
August 16 ~ Washington, D.C. ~ Warner Theatre
August 17 ~ Washington, D.C. ~ Warner Theatre
August 19 ~ Milwaukee ~ Riverside Theatre
August 21 ~ Chicago ~ Auditorium Theatre
August 22 ~ Chicago ~ Auditorium Theatre

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The Swell Season at Bonnaroo 2008

The Swell Season captured the spirit of Bonnaroo best, of all the great bands I saw (pictures). You can download the show, transformed magically into mp3s, here, or any of 15 other live shows of theirs here.

I expected great things from Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, but I also know it’s hard to put a sweet sound out into the great outdoors and manage to maintain intimacy and vibrancy all at once. Their songs did just that, and their humility and joy refreshed us despite the mid-day heat. The two musicians really did fall in love while filming the movie Once and making the music that became not just a soundtrack but also this group The Swell Season. They interacted on stage just how I’d hoped: adoring looks, encouraging cues, an ever-so-slight touch on the shoulder while they worked out what to play next.

If you haven’t bought any of their stuff yet, I would recommend the collector’s edition of the Once soundtrack that also includes a couple of live cuts and a making-of DVD. Perhaps it talks about how they fell in love while filming and touring. And the actual movie DVD is out now, too, if you missed it in theaters. If you saw the movie, you won’t be surprised to know The Swell Season covered two Van Morrison songs, Astral Weeks and Into the Mystic.

Glen was much more of a showman than I expected. He orchestrated the audience without commanding us (see future post on Metallica at Bonnaroo), encouraging us to cut loose with no inhibitions in the spirit of a festival. We were hungry for this sort of communal happiness, and the packed audience ate it up and gave it back to the performers on stage tenfold.

Glen and Markéta were accompanied by Glen’s usual band (since 1990) The Frames. I’ve not been able to get into their records, but this show made me want to keep trying until it takes. The drummer was an incredible mix of charismatic and seriously absorbed, the guitarist and bass player were great role players, and the violinist played so emotively I actually looked for another woman singer when he laid harmonies over and under Markéta’s soaring vocals.

The song I loved best was originally a Frames song, called God Bless Mom. It’s not anywhere online live to show you. I’ll keep a lookout. The video for the original version of the song does nothing to capture the dynamic range with which The Swell Season infused it.

I love The Pixies. I was amped for a Pixies cover by a downloadable concert of The Swell Season at the 9:30 Club offered by NPR here. So when the band left the stage and Glen and Markéta had a confab and then broke into a cover of Levitate Me, I went ballistic. You can’t see me going apeshit about five rows back in  the crowd, which is only due to the camera angle, but it’s still fun to watch them.

The band worked a jam for a while, which was unremarkable in and of itself. But Glen asked poets to come up on the stage, and two people took the invitation. The man who went first looked at the crowd in awe, genuinely taken aback by the sea of people focused on him. Glen nodded in shared astonishment, and with that bolstering moment the dude plowed into a really good poem. I tapped him on the shoulder later and thanked him for letting us all be part of something special, and he seemed to take the compliment as seriously as I meant it.

Final note: They did an encore, Hey Day (written by Mic Christopher), which was racous. What more could ya want?

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Death Cab for Cutie

The new Death Cab for Cutie album Narrow Stairs doesn’t come out until May 13 (tour schedule). You can watch the (fairly uninspiring) video for the album’s first single I Will Posses Your Heart.

But the real news is the Death Cab Daytrotter Session that features downloadable or streamable mp3s of both old and new songs. Set list, including the quite good Cath:

1) A Movie Script Ending from The Photo Album
2) Cath from the forthcoming Narrow Stairs [recommended]
3) Styrofoam Plates from The Photo Album
4) Talking Bird from the forthcoming Narrow Stairs
5) The New Year from Transatlanticism
6) Why You’d Want To Live Here from The Photo Album

Speaking of old Death Cab, here’s a YouTube of Title and Registration (off of Transatlanticism … I never did get in to Plans …), which is cribbed from the DCFC documentary Drive Well, Sleep Carefully. The multi-venue concert DVD is aptly named because I think of Ben Gibbard’s music as driving to the mountains music, particularly The Postal Service.

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Zombie Strippers

Zombie Strippers, out in some theaters now, is certainly in the running for cult favorite of the year. Watch the trailer.

It features Jenna Jameson. Sure, her plastic surgery got her where she is in the porno biz, and too much of it has resulted in her career jumping the shark, but this film looks tremendous despite/because of these things …

It’s set in Sartre, Nebraska. Pronounced sahr-treeeeee. Excellent

Is it one of the last true grindhouse films?

Okay, why is this in a music blog? Dunno, really. The soundtrack has some appropriate songs from Roxy Saint. But it’s this quote from a NYTimes review that made me think to blog about the movie:

“Though not nearly as clever as it aims to be, the film at least tries. In addition to drawing inspiration from Eugène Ionesco’s ever-relevant absurdist play “Rhinoceros,” it’s full of jabs at the Bush administration and philosophy references — for starters, Jenna Jameson, as the first stripper to succumb to zombification, reads and quotes Nietzsche.”

That bit made me think of a non-soundtrack tune: Nietzsche, by The Dandy Warhols (download mp3). It’s off of Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia, my favorite disc of theirs, and was in the soundtrack for the film Antitrust.

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There Will Be Blood: Jonny Greenwood

I had the privilege of seeing the film There Will Be Blood this weekend, in which the incredible score was as visible on the screen as the cinematography was melodic. It was adapted by writer/director/producer P.T. Anderson from the first bit of a Upton Sinclair novel, Oil! Online, for free, you can read Sinclair’s The Jungle for your fix of sausages and socialism.

While you read this post, open There Will Be Blood’s website so you can soak up the score, composed by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood and performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra. In addition to his Radiohead gig, where he writes some songs, Jonny has been the BBC’s resident composer since 2004. You can listen to his piece for the orchestra titled Popcorn Superhet Receiver (named for a shortwave radio to evoke the white noise of trying to dial in a signal), which is important because excerpts were revamped and included in the score. This pre-movie purpose is the reason the Academy found the score to be ineligible for an Oscar nomination.

Listen to the cut HW Hope of the New Fields on Jonny’s MySpace. But better yet, glimpse clips of the tracks Proven Lands and There Will Be Blood. Proven Lands is exceprted from Popcorn. It’s incredible. It drives the film; it provides the film’s crux; it encapsulates the film. The clip isn’t long enough to show how the percussion spirals apart, in a controlled but certain self-destruction, but you’ll know it when you hear it in the movie.

I left the theater with my brain pulsing the word megalomania, and I was pleased to find this impressive New Yorker article that mobilizes the word monomaniacal. It offers a technical and astute review of the score, including these intricate sentences that manage to address the historical, the personal, the visual, the logistical, the aural, the metaphorical, and the emotional aspects of the film: “…beyond the melodrama of Daniel Plainview’s external rise and internal collapse, [the film] shows a primeval American landscape on the brink of violent transformation. English composers from Elgar and Vaughan Williams onward have lingered lovingly over musical depictions of pastoral hills and fields, implicitly resisting the march of progress. Greenwood, too, writes the music of an injured Earth; if the smeared string glissandos on the soundtrack suggest liquid welling up from underground, the accompanying dissonances communicate a kind of interior, inanimate pain. The cellos cry out most wrenchingly when Plainview scratches his name on a claim, preparing to bleed the land.”

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American Gangster

I nearly purchased the American Gangster soundtrack a couple of times since seeing the Denzel Washington/Russell Crowe flick at the drive-in movie theater, but when I visit InSound to do so, they scare me off with their assessment that the disc is “An entirely fitting companion piece to the movie, but certainly not on the endlessly playable level of the Dead Presidents soundtrack discs.” And I have them, so why would I need this. Well, I’m beginning to make up my own mind on this matter.

The American Gangster soundtrack is not to be confused with Jay-Z’s album with the same title (preview all the songs here) that was inspired by the movie. Jay-Z’s is a concept album, and each track comes directly from a scene. He played the film in the background while recording. There’s also an a cappella version of the Jay-Z album for the DJs to mess around with, as usual. That’s all very interesting, but I’d actually prefer an instrumental-only version. The hooks are what keep me listening to Jay-Z, not his lyrics; for instance, in Soul Sides’ post of Jay-Z’s 99 Problems, the Dap-Kings are on the instrumentals, and I wish Jay-Z would just be quiet. Similarly, his business savvy is what keeps me following him in the news, not necessarily his rhymes (as is the case with lots of other rap stars).

Antony Hamilton singing Do You Feel Me (download it at Soul Sides or stream it at Def Jam), the featured song in the movie, is great. It was written by Diane Warren, and also relies on the Dap-Kings for the groove. Sometimes I think I’d like Hamilton’s vocals to be more silky, but it doesn’t stop me from listening. He convicts me with the line: “And you like to keep keepin’ me.” I think I keep him because the vocals sound like a man is singing them. There’s a bit of falsetto, but it’s not gratuitous, not like Pharrell Williams, who’s an interesting cat (The Neptunes) with a nice sound, but it’s certainly not manly when he sings.

The producer of the Hamilton single is Hank Shocklee, and he talks about the process in an interview here. I like that he used the Dap-Kings (of the we-may-have-backed-her-but-we-ain’t-no-Amy-Winehouse ’cause-we-been-doin’-this-for-a-long-time-and-ain’t-nobody-been-listenin’ Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings) as his session band and recorded at Daptone Records with old (“vintage”) equipment. Shocklee, famous at first for his work with Public Enemy, said, “the thing that I thought was most amazing was me actually working with live musicians again. I think that is an art that has been lost. Everybody is more drum machine and sample-oriented now.” I hope it moves Shocklee and the music he influences in a little different direction.

The final assessment is I think I talked myself into the Hamilton solo album rather than the American Gangster soundtrack … review coming soon.

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