Okay, chewers, I’m trying a new column-style format for soundtrack reviews. I love doing the long form reviews, and I’ll still be doing them, but I’ve got soundtracks coming out of my goddamn ears, and this will help keep a steady flow of soundtrack content coming your way. Also: do you guys like the title? Leave title suggestions in the comments!
Who composed it?: David Schwartz
Who released it?: Varese Records
Who’s it for?: Soundtrack geeks who also happen to be big fans of Arrested Development, or fans of Django Reinhardt-style gypsy jazz.
What did you like about it?: David Schwartz is so versatile it makes me sick. He can compose for any genre of music. This album features mariachi, boy band pop, jazz, funk, rock, folk, and even a bit of ska. What’s even more sickening is that he does it all so bloody well. A pox upon this man! Even worse, he also has a great sense of humor, and that humor comes out in the music, making great use of the series’ innumerable running gags. Also, the jazz stuff is just phenomenal.
What did you dislike about it?: Not a whole lot, but I suppose you could say there’s a fairly limited audience for this soundtrack. People who haven’t seen most of the show likely won’t appreciate the weird running jokes that show up on the album.
What’s it cost?: $13.87 on Amazon.com!
- She’s Cute
- Face Blindness
- The Cute Test
- I’m a Blue, Man
- The Chipper
Who’s on it?: Gustavo Santaolalla, Bon Iver, Kings of Leon, Eric Clapton, Adam Taylor, and Benedict Cumberbatch (…ladies).
Who released it?: Sony Music Entertainment
Who’s it for?: People who like bluesy rock, classical guitar, and Gustavo Santaolalla.
What did you like about it?: The opening track from Bon Iver, Himmon, TX, was good enough to make me actually check out Bon Iver. The Clapton track on the album is a great addition, too. The four short tracks from composer Adam Taylor are a beautiful supplement to Santaolalla’s work, and I’ll definitely be seeking out Taylor in the future. Santaolalla, on the other hand, is one of my favorite film and game composers working today. His inclusion of nylon-string guitar has really defined his sound over the last few years, and his gorgeous score for The Last of Us exemplifies that perfectly. For August: Osage County, it sounds like he favored the higher-pitched vihuela or ronroco instead of your typical classical guitar. Also: stick around until the final seconds of the album, where Quincy Jones’ theme from Sanford and Son makes a brief and unexpected appearance.
What did you dislike about it?: The inclusion of only three of Santaolalla’s cues is a bummer. There is, however, a separate score album featuring only Santaolalla’s music.
What’s it cost?: $10.99 on Amazon.com!
- Himmon, TX
- The Kiss
- End Credits
- Barb Balcony
Who’s on it?: Christopher Cross, John Waite, Hot Chocolate, Neil Diamond, Melle Mel, Kenny Loggins, and more.
Who released it?: Universal Republic
Who’s it for?: Hardcore Anchorman fans.
What did you like about it?: The song choices are great, and are perfectly evocative of the era and the tone of the film. Together, these songs form a polished little time capsule. Robin Thicke sings a surprisingly soulful six-minute cover of Christoper Cross’s Ride Like the Wind, but Will Ferrell yaps incessantly throughout it. There’s a real face-melter of a jazz flute solo, so that helps.
What did you dislike about it?: Anchorman isn’t really my style, so I don’t think I’ll be seeing this one. While this shouldn’t have a huge impact on my experience with the album, the album is liberally peppered with dialogue snippets, messages from Ron Burgundy, and also features Will Ferrell singing a two-minute song about a shark named Doby. And while it’s not really a huge gripe, I’m missing out on the jokes. I’m sure they’re funnier on screen. You can say it’s my loss, but I just don’t care enough to see the flick.
What’s it cost?: $11.88 on Amazon.com!
- Every 1’s A Winner
- This is It
- Lonesome Billy
Who composed it?: Rolfe Kent
Who released it?: Warner Bros. Records
Who’s it for?: People who like classical guitar and a fraction of the small percentage of people who liked this movie.
What did you like about it?: This is a really strange score. It’s interesting in that the first couple of Kent’s cues sound like a horror movie. There’s massive tension and dissonance. The third track, Price Mart, even features ear-splittingly high dog-whistle shrieks. There isn’t a shred of sentimentality until the fifth track. There are a handful of sentimental cues throughout the score, but they all feature spacey-sounding string chords in the background. It lends a really unexpected tone that would work just as well (if not better) in a sci-fi film. I like that the score is very minimalistic, not overwrought, and has some very simple and effective motifs. There’s also some great classical guitar pieces included on the soundtrack, like Fernando Sor’s Exercises in B Minor, Opus 35, No. 22.
What did you dislike about it?: Without seeing the film, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around why the score’s tone is so ethereal and haunting. From the trailer, the film looks like a sugary symphony of groan-inducing moments. Based on the critical reaction to the film, that appears to be the case.
What’s it cost?: $11.49 on Amazon.com!
- Frank the HandyMan
- Exercises in B Minor, Op. 35, No. 22 Alegretto
- Adele’s Miscarriages
- Romance de los Pinos