While everyone is off PAXin' a few of us are still here and still pumpin' out reviews for the rest of the non-PAXers out there.
This week is a wonderfully weird little mash up. We've got two soundtracks, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game
as well as some cabaret with The Tiger Lillies and two often forgotten 80s classics from Joan Jett and The Go-Go's.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game (Original Videogame Soundtrack)
August 24, 2010 Genre:
8-Bit Rock, Chiptunes
An NES had Sex with a rock band.
Anamanaguchi just burst out of the shadows it seemed this summer with the release of their free singles over on their own site (Here
) And they worked their way into my brain hard. When I Saw that they were doing the Music for the Scott Pilgrim Game I was all freaking out and broke down and bought it without buying the game (Yet, that totally did happen after though) And Iím not disappointed at all. Iím throughly impressed with how much music there is in this fairly cheap album. 24 Songs all about 2 minutes long. And each has itís own feel too which is hard to pull off. They all have the signature Anamanaguchi touch which comes from the blending of NES sounds with Guitar, Bass, and Drums so fluidly.
This album has the potential to help break down the barriers between Chiptunes and other Music, at least as far as the listener bases are concerned. So if you thought you couldnít get into chiptunes, listen to Anamanaguchi and thatíll help make a fan out of you. You need not worry about being alienated by the ďhipster-nessĒ that some say pervades the Scott Pilgrim Franchise, since you could throughly enjoy this without ever touching any other piece of the puzzle, but I bet youíll want to after this sampling. So if you enjoy rock music, chiptune music, or anything in between, check out this album and be ready for Another Winter.
Personal favorite tracks:
(Do I have to, all the songs are great?) Another Winter
, Subruban Tram
, The Dark One
, Twin Dragons
, Gideon Wraths Part 1
, and Gideon Wraths Part 2 TL;DR:
Like Rock Music? GOOD Rock Music? This is for you Like Video Games? Retro Video Games? How about their music? This is For you as well. 8 Bit sounds and Solid Rock Aesthetics make this a canít miss Album
Beauty and the Beat
July 24, 1981
Pop rock, new wave
Rock dipped in 80s sass and filled with badass.
How do I introduce this review? Wow. So many possibilities. How about how depressingly underrated it is? Maybe how refreshing it is to see an album with sass and badassery that doesnít devolve into sex drive? The Go-Goís were always something of an enigma in that respect. Outside of some of their mainstream hits (We Got the Beat
, Our Lips Are Sealed
) they always managed to carry a very definitive amount of attitude in their songs but the band itself never really did the whole ďWeíre jailbait, look at us,Ē thing that The Runaways and The Bangles did. In some ways I guess thatís what destined their albums in their entirety to be pushed into obscurity. All the same their debut album, Beauty and the Beat
continues to be one of the finest pop rock albums ever cut.
The first track, Our Lips Are Sealed
, is the mainstream pop hit youíve all heard a million times and thatís all well and good. But the real meat of the album lies in the following tracks. How Much More
really do well to mix it up and give off a different aura. The album gets a little darker, a little more discontent, and thatís where the group really shines. From then on out the album is just fucking brilliant. Lust to Love
, two of the darkest and sexiest tracks on the album, are some of my favorite pop rock tracks ever.
The composition is your basic rock set up, harmonies included, but the sound is interesting. On the happier tracks you get the gist of it really. Spry mainstream guitar with some really interesting bass and your standard drums. However the remaining tracks that arenít so spry and are really wonderfully composed. Some incredible drumlines, more ďseriousĒ guitar, and some great vocal performances from Belinda Carlisle make every track an absolute pleasure. Itís just so fucking infectious. Itís incredible. Or maybe Iím just throwing that in because This Town
just started playing and is blowing my frigginí mind.
Lyrically the album as a whole is acceptable though not mind blowing. However I do have to call out one track in particular. Automatic
, which is absolutely beautiful in lyrical content and in presentation. It is without a doubt one of my favorite tracks of all time for that exact reason. I mean look at thisÖ
Golden hair Skin glisten Beating heart but don't listen Angles sharp Crash together Time and consciousness sever Mind in automatic Time stop Automatic
Those words, coupled with their delivery, fucking get me every time.
Beauty and the Beat
is an incredible album of the 80s. Itís a hodgepodge of the happy-go-lucky themes that infected the radio pleasantly placed alongside some of the darker tones that came out of that era. Now itís not The Cramps or the Dead Kennedys but thereís certainly a deep layer lying under these deceitfully simplistic tracks from The Go-Gos. Do not take their #1 singles directly at face value. Youíll be surprised what this album throws at you.
Personal favorite tracks: Automatic
, This Town
, and Lust to Love TL;DR:
A wonderfully underrated album with a deceitful dark side.
The Mountains of Madness Soundtrack
The Tiger Lillies
Misery Guts Music
Gypsy Punk, Brechtian music
Hellís Lounge Band
The Tiger Lillies are not particularly pleasant. They make music that most people find aggravating and uncomfortable. Beastiality, prostitution, sin, and degradation have all been common themes in their work. The lead singer, Martin Jacques, is known for his screeching falsetto voice and thick grease painted visage. They are traditionally a three piece outfit with an upright bass, toy drum kit and accordion but use everything from a musical saw to a theremin. Harmony is not part of their gig. However, they make it work. They gained critical acclaim (and even won a Grammy) for doing an album based upon the works of famed macabre artist Edward Gorey. A stage play of their album based upon everyoneís favorite fucked up fairy tale collection Der Struwwelpeter
toured across the globe to rave reviews and accolades. What the Tiger Lillies do is take the ugly and the shunned and create beauty without masking any of the grotesqueries. Mountains of Madness
is a stage production based upon a collection of songs The Tiger Lillies wrote inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. All of Lovecraftís greatest works get a song here, from Mountains of Madness
, The Call of Cthulhu
to my personal favorite, Rats in the Walls
. German punk icon Alexander Hacke narrates the show with readings from Lovecraftís works in a gravely, demonic voice. The songs are morose, tinged with a despair and sorrow-filled beauty that is unmistakably Tiger Lillies while doing justice to the intense horror of Lovecraftís vision. Each song is masterfully crafted to express the dread of the stories. Jacqueís voice, ranging from a shrieking falsetto to a somber, subdued timbre carries with it the weight and power to breathe life into a world of impossible horror and hopelessness. ArtistDanielle de Picciotto created a series of cartoons to accompany the stage show. Each cartoon is an ethereal visual journey, using Bosch-esque imagery and flittering shadowy things to bring the music to life on stage.
I love the Tiger Lillies for making the obscene wondrous and magnificent. Be it the works of Lovecraft or Shock-Headed Peter or love songs to farm animals, they excel at making deviance a joy and corruption an art. For any fan of Lovecraft or a fan of the strange and macabre, Mountains of Madness
is well worth your time. Despair is given a voice and nightmares become the joyful norm here. Personal favorite tracks: The Rats in the Walls
, Do You Know
, The Mountaintops TL;DR:
Like Lovecraft? Like the strange and macabre? This is for you.
- Occams electric toothbrush Album:
I Love Rock Ďní Roll
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
November 18, 1981
Classic rock, punk, rock ní roll
Simple, fun, straightforward, and sexy rock.
This one has been sitting on my mind for a while and while Iíve been churning out long overdue reviews the last few weeks I decided to finally knock this one out. I didnít really expect to learn much, itís an album that gets a lot of play from myself every once in a while, but after listening again with a critics ear Iíve actually come away with a lot of new thoughts.
I Love Rock Ďní Roll
appropriately opens up with its popular title track and for good reason. It set the precedent for the entire album. From covers of rock musicians of old (the title track is itself a cover of The Arrows) to some fantastic original material from the always powerful Joan Jett this album is a celebration of pure unabashed rock. It doesnít try to be overbearing, heavy, or particularly deep and the opening track is the perfect example of that. From then on the album just continues to impress with tracks like (Iím Gonna) Run Away
, Love is Pain
, and NAG
this album makes first impressions look easy.
The composition and sound of the album follows suit. Itís very simplistic but it never feels old or tired. The power chords stung together into catchy riffs, the pounding drums, the harmonies, all feel very rock. Thereís little attempt at flash or a schtick and overall thatís what makes the album so powerful. Tracks like NAG
(featuring doo-wop group The Coasters) have classic 50s/60s rock ní roll rhythms and are really the epitome of the album. Meanwhile covers like Louie, Louie
and Crimson and Clover
are just so fucking great that they might be my favorite versions respectively. Joan has an unmistakable way with her voice on this album.
Lyrically is where a lot of people may be turned off or turned on. For myself I found the lyricism wonderful and refreshing. Letís just say Joan wonít be winning any poetry awards. Thereís next to no attempt at metaphors, imagery, or any other literary devices that often add punch to the lyricism of albums. These lyrics are blatantly straight out of Joan Jettís bedroom circa 1980. What you see, tracks like Youíre Too Possesive
, and Love is Pain
are exactly what they sound like. Theyíre blatantly unpoetic and for that theyíre extremely relatable.
Overall I Love Rock Ďní Roll
is appropriately classic. It is as much an homage to classic rock ní roll as it is a primary example. Itís fun, itís intelligent, itís relatable, and itís fun. The spirit of Joan Jett absolutely shines and itís that spirit that adds just the right flavor to a wonderful rock ní roll album.
Personal favorite tracks: I Love Rock Ďní Roll
, Crimson and Clover
, and Love is Pain TL;DR:
Classic Joan Jett at her finest. Any fun of pure unabashed rock with a little bit of sexiness should already have this one in their collection.
GOING DEEPER WARNING
: Some spoilers for the actual movie ahead. Skip down to the TL;DR if you want a spoiler free, ďbuy it or notĒ version.
There are few things that make me see a movie twice. It can be what little I knew about the movie beforehand (lol J.J. Abrams), or it could be one scene in the movie which makes me want to learn it all by heart (lol Pulp Fiction), or it could be WALL-E. But few times, and I mean, very few times, has the soundtrack of a flick made me go and see the movie again in theaters. The Inception Soundtrack just happens to be one of those soundtracks.
The first thing you have to understand about the soundtrack Hans Zimmer has created is that itíll first remind you somewhat of The Dark Knightís soundtrack. Inception is a very low tone scene, nothing terribly high in the overall score, except for the violins (but when are they ever not high?), and even then they are sometimes closer to the ground than in the sky. This helps it fit with the grounded feel of the movie itself, as Inception, despite its main plot device being dreams, doesnít really stretch the imagination in the way you think it would.
Then comes the main attraction; every track in the Inception soundtrack is based off a theme show off in the opening track. Chord structure, rhythmic placing, even dynamics; everything can be traced to back to the beginning of the entire soundtrack, and in some cases, toĒ Non, je ne regrette rienĒ by Edith Piaf, the song that, in the movie, is used to initialize the ďkickĒ sequence to wake dreamers up.
The idea of building an entire soundtrack off a single theme is not new to the movie soundtrack world, but itís done wonderfully well here. Youíll have a grand old time listening to the soundtrack over and over again, trying to draw links between various parts of songs, wondering if one chord in one track can be heard in any of the other songs. But not only does it make a fun little romp for the Music Theory student; the soundtrack can actually serve as a plot device for the movie itself.
The main thing Inception pushes is the thought of going deeper and deeper into ones dreams, effectively dreaming within a dreamÖwithin a dream. Every time you dive deeper into another level of the dreamscape, or fall asleep and begin dreaming while in a dream, time slows down. Thatís where the soundtrack comes in. The soundtrack sports a varied tempo that goes from funeral-doom-metal-breakdown speed to somewhat quick all throughout the score. It level of being dramatic can also vary greatly, and these changes can indicate when one drops into/out off a deeper level of dreaming. A dramatic, slower paced section can signal someone achieving a new level in dreaming, while a quicker, lighter section can signal someone waking up. Slower, but also calmer sections of songs can also indicate what level of dreaming youíre on. Itís all these little subtleties that make this a soundtrack you listen to over and over again not just because itís a good listen, but it can also help you appreciate and in some cases, understand the movie more.
Speaking of good listen, if youíre not into movies and just really like well put together orchestrated pieces, the Inception soundtrack can serve that purpose as well. As I mentioned before, Hans goes from really slow to really fast without skipping a beat, and it can be a gradual build up, or a shocking turnaround. Hans also likes to mess with bass. Anything from the electronic bass, to the brass instrument bass, to the bass drum, heíll use it, and itíll be really loud. Everything flows supremely well too, the general excitement level being low to high to low, with ďMombassaĒ being the high point, since the track takes place during a chase scene in the movie. And the subtle use or guitar licks by Johnny Marr of The Smiths adds a certain modern feel to a soundtrack about a modern take on how we dream.
All in all, if you watched Inception, youíre doing yourself a disservice by not buying this soundtrack. If you havenít seen Inception, go see it, and then pick up this soundtrack. And if you have no desire what so ever to see Inception (you monster), at give the soundtrack a onceover; this is one soundtrack no fan of soundtracks should miss this year. Personal favorite tracks:
EVERYTHING. Seriously though; Mombassa
and Dream Is Collapsing TL;DR:
You like soundtracks? Youíll like this. Buy It.
Happy weekend everyone! Especially those non-PAXers! Like the PAX people need to be wished a happy weekend! Pfft!
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