Sunday, June 30, 2013

Best Albums of 2013... So Far...

Usually, I don't do half-year lists based on my history in writing about music but given the slate of new releases this year. 2013 has so far been an incredible year. So many good albums have come out so far and there's definitely more to come. Here are my 35 favorite albums so far...

1. My Bloody Valentine-MBV

2. Queens of the Stone Age-...Like Clockwork

3. David Bowie-The Next Day

4. Savages-Silence Yourself

5. Deerhunter-Monomania

6. Daft Punk-Random Access Memories (my mother's favorite album right now)

7. The National-Trouble Will Find Me

8. Phoenix-Bankrupt!

9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs-Mosquito

10. Boards of Canada-Tomorrow's Harvest

11. The Knife-Shaking the Habitual

12. Suede-Bloodsports

13. Sigur Ros-Kveikur

14. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds-Push the Sky Away

15. Disclosure-Settle

16. Primal Scream-More Light

17. Deafhaven-Sunbather

18. Depeche Mode-Delta Machine

19. Kavinsky-Outrun

20. Clint Mansell-Stoker OST

21. Various Artists-After Dark 2

22. How to Destroy Angels-Welcome Oblivion

23. Autechre-Exai

24. Skinny Puppy-Weapon

25. Yo La Tengo-Fade

26. Various Artists-Trance OST

27. The Flaming Lips-The Terror

28. Dillinger Escape Plan-One of Us is the Killer

29. Broadcast-Berberian Sound Studio OST

30. Atoms for Peace-Amok

31. Mike Patton-The Place Beyond the Pines OST

32. The Joy Formidable-Wolf's Law

33. Various Artists-Sound City - Real to Reel

34. The Besnard Lakes-Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO

35. Camera Obscura-Desire Lines

© thevoid99 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Various Artists-Marie Antoinette OST

Originally Written and Posted at on 10/26/06

The soundtrack to Sofia Coppola's 2006 film Marie Antoinette is a mix of classical music with elements of baroque to 1980s post-punk and new wave along with elements of modern ambient and electronic music. Supervised by Brian Reitzell, a longtime associate of Coppola, along with the assistance of longtime friend Stephanie Hayman. The Marie Antoinette Soundtrack is a 2-disc mix that pays tribute to not just the baroque, classical musical styles of the 18th Century but also a tribute to the late 70s/early 80s New Romantics movement that was inspired by 18th Century debauchery. While the soundtrack isn't as nostalgic-driven or haunting as The Virgin Suicides soundtracks or as engaging in an emotional as the Lost in Translation soundtrack was. The Marie Antoinette soundtrack is still one of the most amazing mixes of music assembled for a film.

The first two tracks in the first disc appear in one of the most amazing scenes in the film, the masked ballroom scene. Now the idea of post-punk and new wave music blasting in an 18th Century ballroom might seem radical in terms of what it's trying to do. Yet, given the rhythm and the energy of that kind of music along with the baroque, classical style of music. It makes total perfect sense. The first disc opens with Siouxsie & the Banshees' Hong Kong Garden that starts off a swift, orchestral number from Brian Reitzell before going into a vibrant, rocking track led by the Siouxsie Sioux's wailing vocals and elements of Chinese melodies that really captures the swirling energy of the ballroom dance. The first of three Bow Wow Wow tracks in the soundtrack comes in the form of their original song Aphrodisiac that features some great tribal drumming and intense rhythms led by Annabella Lwin's vocals as furthers the party vibe and energy of the scene as it's a great track.

The third track in the first disc is the Strokes' What Ever Happened? is a fine track that has features the Strokes' Velvet-like snarl and Julian Casablanca's vocals. Yet, for some reason, this is by far the weakest track of the entire soundtrack and it doesn't seem to fit in with everything else and once it's played on the film during a scene in the third act, it makes the entire soundtrack feel like a gimmick. Next is the first of three tracks from the Radio Dept. in the form of Pulling Our Weight. The moody yet shimmering track is filled with all of the post-punk elements of the 80s with melodic bass lines and dreamy vocals as the song's pop-like textures is filled with hypnotic synthesizer lines and guitar tracks as it's a wonderful standout. Next is the New Order song Ceremony written by their previous incarnation as Joy Division. With Peter Hook's melodic bass lines and hammering drums of Stephen Morris, it's one of New Order's finest songs thanks to the harrowing lyrics of Ian Curtis sung by guitarist/vocalist Bernard Sumner as the song reveals the emotional moment of celebration in all of its glory and naivete that also has a sense of foreboding through Curtis' lyrics.

Opening the film during the first shot of Marie getting a pedicure and through the opening credits is from the legendary post-punk band the Gang of Four with their track Natural's Not It. With its crashing guitars and hard-hitting rhythms, the song is pure post-punk in all of its angst and momentum as it's the song that brings the film right to an energetic momentum led by some snarling vocals. It's a great post-punk classic. Next is the famous cover of the classic I Want Candy by Bow Wow Wow. With its tribal, Bo Diddley beats, and the punk-like energy of the guitars, the song is an 80s classic. For this soundtrack, the legendary but reclusive leader of My Bloody Valentine, Kevin Shields gives the song a rocking remix. Shields' remix adds more echos to the vocals and reverbs to the guitars that gives the song more of a rock edge as in the end, it's still the same song but with added touches. Adam & the Ants arrive with Kings Of The Wild Frontier that is real New Romantic with its tribal-like beats and snarling guitars from Marco Pirroni with Adam Ant's wailing vocals that features vocals of 18th Century decadence that seems to go perfect with the film's tone as well as the look of Count Fersen.

The soundtrack then briefly shifts to the world of classical music with a cut from composer Antonio Vivaldi. With musical direction from Brian Reitzell and conducted by Roger Neill, Concerto in G is a wonderfully rhythmic, vibrant cut that features swift violin and cello riffs that definitely fits in with the energy of post-punk and new wave. The Vivaldi cut is easily one of first disc's great standout tracks since its energy really plays well to the record and the film to give that aura of 18th Century sophistication. Next is the eight-minute The Melody Of A Fallen Tree from Windsor for the Derby that is basically a moody, hypnotic track with bass lines, synthesizers, and guitars that starts off as hypnotic instrumental before going into song mode with shimmering synthesizers and a slow rhythm as it plays as an emotional track where Marie is now in the world of Versailles.

The second track from the Radio Dept. is I Don't Like It Like This is a more electronic-driven ballad with hypnotic beats and synthesizers that plays to the same, moody tone with haunting vocals as it's another amazing track that plays to the emotions of Marie's young life. The final track in the first disc comes from the Cure's classic 1989 album Disintegration with the wonderful Plainsong with its opening, wailing synthesizers and Robert Smith's emotional vocals that plays well to the coronation of King Louis XVI and Marie in a wonderful, breathtaking scene.

Whereas the first disc is mostly song-driven and energetic while moody in some parts to the slower songs. The second disc is mostly instrumental with ambient, classical, and opera cuts while having a few songs in the disc. The second disc opens with a 37-second cut from longtime Coppola sound designer Richard Beggs and Brian Reitzell called Intro Versailles which is basically a layered mix of sounds ranging from bells chiming, horses trodding on the ground with birds to the wedding with church organs and such that add weight to the breathtaking introduction of Versailles. The first of two tracks from the Aphex Twin is Jynweythek Ylow which is an ambient track filled with chiming, scratchy melodies and rhythms to the wave of melodic, ambient keyboards from Richard D. James in this ominous instrumental. The first of three instrumental cuts from Dustin O'Halloran arrive in Opus 17 that is primarily an eerie, transcending piano cut that plays well to the atmosphere of 18th Century ambiance. Air contributes a track with their five-minute instrumental version of Il Secondo Giorno as it's mainly an ambient track with reverb, bass-driven synthesizer melodies and acoustic guitars as its wonderfully played to the moods and isolation in the world of Versailles.

The third and final track from Radio Dept. is Keen On Boys starts off with this wave of dreamy yet droning guitar crashes that harkens to the world of shoegazing with atmospheric vocals and hypnotic guitar waves accompanied by electronic beats. This is the best track from the Radio Dept. as the band brings a lot of moodiness and texture to the soundtrack and film. The second O'Halloran composition in Opus 23 is a more emotional, melancholic piano track that is filled with lower chords and a sadness that plays to the mood of Versailles and Marie's surroundings. The next classical cut comes from Fancois Cauperin called Les Barricades Mysterious that is basically a harpsichord track performed by Patricia Mabee and directed and arranged by Brian Reitzell. The cut is a fast-played harpsichord track that seems to go well with the times with its flourishing melodies and the imperfected sound that the harpsichord seems to sound.

The next track is a cover of Johnny Mercer's Fools Rush In from Bow Wow Wow. The original cover from Bow Wow Wow is more tribal in tune with their sound but the remix Kevin Shields gives sticks to the rhythm yet the music is replaced with a more shoegaze-like sound of reverb guitars and faster, electronic beats yet the vocals that Annabella Lwin are amazing. Played in a scene after the ballroom scene, it's one of the best cuts as its rhythm will keep listeners dancing. The second Aphex Twin instrumental is Avril 14th is a more piano-driven track that plays to the melancholia and isolation of the world in Versailles with its flourishing yet slow piano melodies that reveals the talents of Richard D. James. Another harpsichord-driven cut arrives in the form of Domenico Scarlatti with Mabee playing the cut and arrangements from Reitzell. K. 213 is a more melodic-driven track that plays to the atmosphere of Versailles in its ambiance that is slower than the previous harpsichord track but more flourishing. Squarepusher contributes an ambient cut in Tommib Help Buss that has the same, emotional melody like Tommib did in the Lost in Translation soundtrack but is more reverb in its keyboard melodies and less engaging yet it is a fine track from Tom Jenkinson.

Opera arrives in Tristes Apprets, Pales Flambeaux from the opera Castor et Pollux by Jean-Phillippe Rameau that's directed by William Christie with vocals by Agnes Mellon. The opera cut is flourishing in its bombast and arrangements yet the opera track is very sad led by Mellon's amazing vocals that convey the sadness in a scene late in the film when Marie is watching an opera considering the political situation her country is in. It's one of the best cuts of the film. Dustin O'Halloran contributes one more composition with Opus 36 that is another piano-driven track that features more, melancholic melodies with higher pitches in the chords that adds to the fall of Versailles and Marie's troubling moods. The final track is from the Cure in All Cats Are Grey that closes the film and plays in the final credits. With its slow, tribal beats and harrowing synthesizers, the song plays like the end of something with Robert Smith's eerie vocals and lyrics as it conveys death of where Marie would eventually meet her fate.

While it's not a perfect soundtrack thanks to the inclusion of the Strokes, Marie Antoinette is still a fine soundtrack with some great cuts ranging from classical to new wave. While other contributions from the classical department including an 18th Century instrumental from Phoenix and New Order's Age Of Consent (that was played in the film's teaser trailer) never made it to the final cut of the soundtrack. What Sofia Coppola and Brian Reitzell offered is still amazing in its variety while making it a great introduction to not just the music genres of post-punk, new wave, and ambient but also classical where those cuts are very inspiring. In the end, the soundtrack to Marie Antoinette is a must-have for anyone who's a fan of the film and the work of Sofia Coppola.

Sofia Coppola Soundtracks: Air-The Virgin Suicides - The Virgin Suicides OST - Lost in Translation OST - (The Bling Ring OST))

© thevoid99 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

Various Artists-Lost in Translation OST

Originally Written and Posted at on 9/27/03 with a Few Minor Edits.

When there’s a comeback arose, it’s always based on something to cash in on something or to prove that you’re viable again. Then there’s My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields. Since the release of 1991’s seminal rock masterpiece Loveless, My Bloody Valentine disappeared after making two acclaimed albums and several brilliant EPs by the mid-1990s. For years, fans had waited for Kevin Shields and company to return with a new record but instead, Shields contributed covers to tribute or benefit albums, remixes, and guitar contributions under the MBV moniker. In 2000, he briefly made a return to the spotlight when he toured with Primal Scream to promote their album XTRMNTR which Shields had made contributions for. Still, many wondered if the reclusive perfectionist will make a return and in 2003, he did.

The news of Shields’ return sent shockwaves all over the music press, notably the U.K. and U.S. underground who had been praising Loveless for years. Though it’s unsure if Shields will release a full-length album in the coming years, there will be a new MBV album coming with unreleased and re-recorded material from the pre-Loveless period. Whether the MBV or his new solo record will come out first, Shields finally presented four new tracks to the soundtrack to Sofia Coppola’s sophomore masterpiece Lost in Translation.

The soundtrack to Lost in Translation is a wide mix of music ranging from Japanese pop, indie-pop, French electronic music, ambient, noise-pop, and dream-pop. Leading the pack is Kevin Shields with four new cuts on the record along with an old classic cut from Loveless. The film’s music and score is also provided by producer Brian Reitzell who plays on a couple of tracks for Shields as well as two of his own tracks with Beck's keyboardist Roger J. Manning Jr. The soundtrack, like the film itself, provides a sense of chill and alienation to capture the isolating tone of Sofia Coppola’s subtle, evocative look of the movie and the soundtrack does a perfect job in doing so. With the sterile, chilling electronic music of Squarepusher, Death in Vegas, Air, and Sebastien Tellier along with songs and textures from Phoenix, Happy End, Richard Beggs, and a classic cut from the Jesus & Mary Chain, the film provides a diverse soundtrack into the colorful layers and dissonance of Japan.

The album begins with a brief intro designed by Richard Beggs which features the noises of Tokyo and its people along with samples of Japanese songs like Sora Izumikawa’s Lost Generation, Akinori Kumata’s Carpe Diem-Ima Konoshunkanwo Ikiru, and Miki Watanabe’s Kitakaze To Taiyo. The intro serves as an uncomforting, chilling opener to the world of Japan and its people as it segues into the next song. Kevin Shields’ City Girl arrives with Brian Reitzell’s mid-tempo, pulsating drums and Shields’ dissonant, droning guitar wash as he sings, “Please, tonight/Last night/You/You’re away, and wonderful/I wanted you, I do, I do” with his sullen, drowsy vocals. The song’s textures of shimmering melodies from Shields’ guitar proves that after 12 years, Shields hasn’t lost the ability to craft a brilliant pop song, especially in the chorus of “City girl, you’re beautiful/I love you, I do, I do, I do” with Reitzell hitting pulsating fills and cymbal crashes to Shields’ melodic guitar wash.

Next is an eerie, chilling instrumental from Sebastien Tellier entitled Fantino that has Tellier playing a soft, washy acoustic guitar track with accompanying layers of synthesizers and mellotrons that serves as a chilling, evocative tone to the song to encompass the isolation of the film’s American characters in Tokyo along with dissonant Japanese melodies performed on the synthesizers that wails throughout the song in its squealing demeanor. Squarepusher comes next with his instrumental piece Tommib that arrives with its melodic, sterile synthesizer track in its dreamy, melancholic tone. Though the track is brief, it again encompasses that alienation in the film’s subtle tone as it was used in some of the driving scenes of Tokyo that has Tommib serve as an alien-like accompaniment to a world that is foreign to outsiders and the track captures that tone perfectly.

Next is Death in Vegas’ Girls that is a more blossoming track with its grand, melodic crashes of guitars, bass, synthesizers, drums, and Susan Dillane’s vocals as it starts off soft and then blooms into something mesmerizing and open as the snare hits along with fuzzy synthesizer tracks. The track serves as the introduction of Japan to its foreigners as either something beautiful or strange as the track then speeds up a bit into something a bit more menacing but not in a very aggressive way as it still encompasses its melancholic tone. Goodbye is the first of two electronic-inspired instrumentals from Kevin Shields as he returns to the ambient-textures of MBV in the past to explore electronic music with just some synthesizers and a guitar. Goodbye plays as a dense, soothing track with ambient-like synthesizers and textures with a soft guitar drone in the background as the track shows the stimulating chill of loneliness in the film’s central characters of Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson). The track might seem to be totally different from Shields’ work with MBV but in truth, it’s not really different in its ambient, dreamy tone since Shields have always found ways to make noise dreamy.  Even though it doesn't appear in the film.

We now go into the pop spectrum of the soundtrack with Phoenix’s Too Young with its bouncy, Casio-keyboard melodies, flourishing guitar melodies, dance-rhythms, and vocals of Phoenix’s singer as he sings the chorus of “Can you hear me calling/Everybody’s shaking/Tonight, everything is over/Too young”. Some listeners might remember this song from the movie Shallow Hal where Jack Black is dancing with three women that Jason Alexander refers to as “Hyenas, giraffes, and hippos”.  Coppola uses it for a sense of fun in the party scene with Murray, Johansson, and Japanese actor Fumihrio Hayashi as a precursor to the famous karaoke scene in the film.

We now go to some nice Japanese pop from an old 1971 song by Happy End entitled Kaze Wo Atsumete that is a lovely, acoustic pop song sung entirely in Japanese by a guy with a nice baritone-like vocal with melodic keyboard backgrounds. This song is catchy and has an Elvis Costello quality of sorts in the song although I think Elvis Costello should be questioned if he had heard of these guys and ripped them off. Still, it’s a great Japanese pop song that has a catchy chorus in its title that broadens the record wide open in its diverse presentation.

We return to the eerie world of Tokyo in an instrumental called On The Subway by Brian Reitzell and Roger J. Manning Jr. with its cold, simmering synthesizer accompaniment along with melodic keyboard hooks, and a pulsating, eerie drum machine track that encompasses the isolation of Charlotte in the Tokyo subway where’s she’s the only American in subway and the trains that just is well utilized in its isolating tone. The second of third Shields instrumental arrives with the melodic Ikebana that is all Shields as he plays a dreamy, melancholic guitar track with its layers of chiming melodies and a simmering, ambient synthesizer accompaniment in the background. The track is easily the best thing from Shields in the soundtrack as he displays his brilliant as a guitarist by playing a simple melody in a moving scene of Charlotte watching women pruning Japanese orchids.

We now go to a classic My Bloody Valentine song from Loveless called Sometimes where Shields plays a grungy, dreamy guitar wash with its dissonant, droning melodies as he sings the song’s dreamy lyrics of loneliness with his drowsy vocals and an accompanying acoustic guitar wash from Blinda Butcher in the background. This song like many road scenes in the movie was used in a very particular one where after days of insomnia, Bob and Charlotte are returning to their hotel as they’re finally becoming sleepy and Coppola deserves credit for finding this song and acknowledging the influence of My Bloody Valentine in the film as a wailing, ambient like synthesizer approaches to end the song.

Next is a track from the French electronic duo Air (who contributed the score to Coppola’s debut film The Virgin Suicides) as they bring the only new track, aside from Shields and Reitzell, in the instrumental Alone In Kyoto. Alone In Kyoto opens with soft, simmering synthesizers as melodic string riffs and soft wails of synthesizer melodies later follow it. Pianos come in as the track begins to build some momentum as the track encompasses some Japanese melodies to visualize Charlotte’s trip in Kyoto as the track later, becomes more melancholic with its piano and wave backgrounds to stimulate the sadness of Charlotte’s marriage in the film.

The second instrumental contribution Reitzell and Manning is the short instrumental for Shibuya with its dense, deep synthesizer track as wailing synth melodies arrive with pulsating hooks as Richard Beggs brings in noises of Tokyo and people talking in Japanese. The final instrumental piece is from Kevin Shields for Are You Awake? where Shields goes into electronic music with bass accompaniment from Bryan Mills and throbbing synthesizer melodies from Shields and pulsating rhythms from Brian Reitzell as Shields takes the ambient of MBV into dreamier, more rhythmic textures as he even plays a soft, squealing synth-buzz in the background.

The supposed album closer is the classic Jesus & Mary Chain song Just Like Honey as future Primal Scream singer Bobby Gillespie plays that famous Wall of Sound rhythm of the Phil Spector-produced Ronnettes masterpiece Be My Baby. With Douglas Hart’s bass accompanying and William Reid playing a soft, feedback wash guitar with Jim Reid singing, “Listen to the girl as she takes on half the world/Moving up and so alive/In her honey-dripping beehive, beehive/It’s good, so good, it’s so good, so good/Watching after you is the hardest thing that I can do/That I can do for you, for you/I’ll be your plastic toy, I’ll be your plastic toy, for you/Eating up the scum is the hardest thing for me to do”. Then Gillespie goes into a caveman-like beat to the song’s layers of guitar-wash feedback as Jim Reid sings the words “Just like honey” repeatedly as the song served as another road song to the film while the lyrics provide a clear description of what the movie is about, sort of.

After 9 minutes of silence, a secret track appears where Charlotte introduces Bob Harris as he does a moving karaoke version of Roxy Music’s classic More Than This. With re-recording backing tracks from Reitzell and Manning, Bill Murray steals the show as he sings the song’s heartbreaking lyrics with his flat but soulful vocals including the chorus of “More than this, you know there’s nothing/More than this, tell me one thing/More than this, there’s nothing” that is brief but moving though it doesn’t capture the same spirit that Murray did a long time ago for that Star Wars song but his rendition of “More Than This” still leaves you breathless.

While a lot of film soundtracks this year (with the soundtrack to Underworld as an exception) are just trying to provide singles and song that really has nothing to do with the film, the soundtrack to Lost in Translation doesn’t try to provide any sort of huge singles or songs that had nothing to do with the film. All the tracks in this record capture the feeling of isolation in Coppola’s dreamy masterpiece, which is why this record is by far, the best soundtrack of the year and maybe, the best album of 2003. Another thing that should be noted about the soundtrack is the packaging with Polaroid pictures of Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson showing their loneliness or whatever brief of happiness is shown in the film. It’s by far one of the best packaging I’ve seen for any film soundtrack along with its evocative look of Tokyo captured by film cinematographer Lance Acord.

The soundtrack to Lost in Translation is easily one of the best soundtracks to come out in the past ten years. With its array of electronic music from Air, Death in Vegas, Squarepusher and pop tunes from Phoenix, the Jesus & Mary Chain, and Happy End, the record has everything. Even the tracks of Brian Reitzell and Roger Manning standout for its dense, eerie score that displays the alien tone of being a foreigner to the new world. The real star of this soundtrack of course is Kevin Shields. Though his instrumentals for Goodbye and Are You Awake? are excellent forays into electronic music, it’s the instrumental for Ikebana that really shows why Shields is an influential force in pop music while City Girl is another example of Shields’ mastery on pop music. Fans of My Bloody Valentine, the various artists in the soundtrack, or the film itself should pick up this soundtrack. For Kevin Shields, it’s a brilliant comeback in appearing the year’s best soundtrack to the year’s best film.

Sofia Coppola Soundtracks: Air-The Virgin Suicides - The Virgin Suicides OST - Marie Antoinette OST - (The Bling Ring OST)

© thevoid99 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Various Artists-The Virgin Suicide OST

Originally Written and Posted on 2/2/08 at

The world of Sofia Coppola has always been known for its moody imagery and haunting themes of alienation. Starting with her 1999 feature film debut The Virgin Suicides based on Jeffrey Eugenides' novel about the suicides of five young girls and the impact it had on four neighborhood boys. Coppola's adaptation of Eugenides' novel took Eugenides' unique narrative and transformed it into a dream-like, nostalgia-driven film with a haunting film score by the French electronic duo Air and an additional soundtrack featuring two additional cuts from Air but also music from the 1970s that appeared on the film.

The soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides is an album that takes the music from the film and give it an album that is dream-like and haunting while conveying a sense of nostalgia. With some modern cuts from Air and the 1990s power-pop band Sloan, the soundtrack is meant to be a soundtrack that explores the mind of the Lisbon girls and the characters they connect and disconnect with. Assembled by longtime Coppola associate Brian Reitzell, the soundtrack features cuts by Al Green, Heart, the Hollies, Todd Rundgren, Gilbert O'Sullivan, 10cc, and Styx. The soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides is a lovely, enchanting soundtrack from the mind of Sofia Coppola.

Heart's Magic Man with its chugging rhythms, wailing guitar solos, and dreamy, acoustic guitar washes from Nancy Wilson to complement older sister Ann's swooning vocals. The song is played to emphasize the presence of heartthrob Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett) as he woos and charms all the girls in the prep school he attends including one Lux Lisbon (Kirsten Dunst). Heart's classic song is definitely powerful that includes a noisy, synthesizer solo in the coda. Todd Rundgren's Hello, It's Me is a lovely ballad with lovely organ accompaniment and Rundgren's crooning vocals. The song is a wonderful track to emphasize the desperate connection of the four neighborhood boys and the Lisbon girls through phone calls with records played in the background. Everything You've Done Wrong by 90s power-pop band Sloan is a wonderful, upbeat song that emphasizes the style of 70s power-pop as it's a great song that sounds like it's from the 70s while it was heard in the background for the Lisbon girls' trip to the prom with Fontaine and his entourage (that included Hayden Christensen).

Air's dreamy-instrumental Ce Matin La from the band's seminal 1998 album Moon Safari makes an appearance with its evocative layers of synthesizers, acoustic guitars, and gorgeous string arrangements. The track is used as background when the quartet of neighborhood boys read from the diary of the late Cecilia Lisbon (Hannah R. Hall) as they venture into her dream-like state of mind as well as the Lisbon girls who also have a fascination with the dream-like world. The Air That I Breathe by the Hollies is another 70s classic with its crying guitar solo intro and lovely vocals that is truly one of the decade's finest love songs. The song is played during a party at the Lisbon house that would eventually end in tragedy as it conveys the melancholic mood of Cecilia. Al Green's soulful cover of the Bee Gees' How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? is another fascinating love song led by Green's soulful vocals and a smooth, R&B instrumentation background. In the film, it's played as part of Trip Fontaine’s fascination with Lux in whom he pined for.

Gilbert O'Sullivan's Alone Again (Naturally) is a lovely, mid-tempo pop song that features a thumping piano track and O'Sullivan's Robin Gibb-like vocals in this amazing song that is played in the neighborhood boys' attempt to contact and connect with the already-quarantined Lisbon girls. 10CC's I'm Not In Love is a wonderfully dreamy, spacey song with strange lyrics as the song is played during the prom scene as the version of this song in this record is the longer, six-minute album version featuring extended instrumentals and vocal choruses. Todd Rundgren's A Dream Goes On Forever is a wonderful pop song with uses of harpsichord accompaniments and machine-like beats that is one of Rundgren's most kaleidoscopic songs as it is another song played during the Lisbon girls' tragic party.

Heart's Crazy On You that begins with a wonderful acoustic guitar solo from Nancy Wilson is a furious rocker with snarling electric guitar riffs and Ann Wilson's wailing vocals as it's an amazing song that is played to present the first kiss between Trip Fontaine and Lux Lisbon. Air's Playground Love in this version of the album is actually known as the (Vibraphone Version) as it is an instrumental of the song played through a vibraphone and an ambient electronic background as it is a haunting track that conveys the isolation of the Lisbon girls following the events during the film. The album closer is Come Sail Away by Styx that is a very dramatic, theatrical song penned by its leader and vocalist Dennis DeYoung with its shimmering opening and dream-like presentation as it then becomes a full-fledge rocker with the twin guitars of Tommy Shaw and J.Y. The song is played during the prom scene as a moment of celebration.

Tracks that don't appear in the soundtrack aside from Air’s film score (which is on a separate soundtrack of its own), include the Bee Gees' Come To Me, Carole King's So Far Away, Electric Light Orchestra's Strange Magic, and four additional cuts from Sloan. The Sloan cuts were also used as instrumental backgrounds since the band are known as simply as a power-pop band of the 90s reminiscent of bands like Badfinger and the Raspberries. The Bee Gees and Carole King songs were played during the phone-connection scenes and the ELO song was played in the prom scene.

While the exclusion of a few cuts makes the original soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides makes the album feel a bit incomplete. The tracks that do appear on the soundtrack, notably the material from the 1970s makes the album feel worthwhile as well as giving those who lived in that decade a sense of nostalgia. Though nowadays, the album is hard to find in stores, it can be found through file-sharing programs. Yet, the album is still a must-have for not just fans of the film but also for completists of Sofia Coppola's film work and her soundtracks. In the end, for a soundtrack that brings a sense of nostalgia along with some dream-like cuts to convey the film's mood, the soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides is an overall excellent purchase.

Sofia Coppola Soundtracks: Air-The Virgin Suicides - Lost in Translation OST - Marie Antoinette OST - (The Bling Ring OST)

© thevoid99 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Air-The Virgin Suicides OST

Originally Written and Posted at on 1/12/04 w/ Additional Edits.

Since releasing the landmark debut Moon Safari in 1998, the French electronic duo of Nicolas Godin and Jean Benoit-Dunckel known collectively as Air. Air became one of the premier bands in the burgeoning French electronic scene with Dimitri from Paris, Daft Punk, Sebastian Tellier, and several more. The wide acclaim Moon Safari received helped Air put themselves in the vanguard of the electronic music scene, after it got overwrought with its hype in the previous year. One fan that enjoyed Moon Safari was Sofia Coppola, daughter of legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. Sofia was working on her 1999 feature-film debut The Virgin Suicides which was released to wider distribution in 2000. Wanting a haunting, breezy mood to the film's dreamy, 70s adolescent tone, Coppola hired Air to score the entire film in what resulted to be one of the best film scores ever produced.

Whereas the original soundtrack for The Virgin Suicides featured loads of 70s hits from Styx, the Hollies, the Bee Gees, Heart, and many more. Air's score for The Virgin Suicides does have that breezy 70s tone but in a darker context prevalent to the film's story about a group of teenage sisters on the verge of self destruction due to their disconnection with reality and young boys. Filled with melancholic textures from real instruments as well as moody, translucent electronic layers of synthesizers and drum machines, Air's score is filled with harrowing, dreamy moments. Unlike most film scores, Air doesn't try to repeat any formulas or melodies which makes some score albums to be disappointing. With contributions from frequent contributor Brian Reitzell along with vocalist Gordon Tracks (an alias of Phoenix vocalist Thomas Mars) and saxophonist Hugo Ferran, Air's moody score for The Virgin Suicides is one record that sends chills as it presents dark images of Sofia Coppola's amazing debut feature.

The album's first track is the only song on the record, the haunting ballad of Playground Love. With it eerie, orchestral-like keyboard accompaniment along with an ominous, melancholic piano melody and Gordon Tracks’ slow, drum fills, the song begins as Tracks sings, "I'm a high school lover, you're my favorite flavor/Love is all, all my soul, you're my playground love". After that verse, a sexy, evocative saxophone solo appears from Hugo Ferran as he accompanies the dark loneliness that is in the Lisbon Girls. Track's lyrics of lost innocence with Air's dark, melancholic tone has that smooth, dreamy feel of 1970s pop with an edge. Ferran's saxophone gives the song a sense of sexiness along with its sadness surrounding the lost innocence of teenage 70s adolescents.

Next we come to Clouds Up were Air brings in elements of fuzzy, discordant synthesizer melodies along with washy acoustic guitars and an eerie, synthesizer accompaniment. In its slow, haunting mood, the track shows the distorted view of what many thought of 70s suburbia which looked nice but beneath it all, it's pretty ugly. Bathroom Girl is a reference to the character of Cecilia (Hannah R. Hall). Air brings in a smooth, evocative accompaniment on the keyboards along with a soft, wailing guitar solo and Brian Reitzell's slow, thumping drums. With an eerie arrangement on the background, Air brings in a sense of drama to convey the sadness of Cecilia as she ends up being doomed while bring a foreshadowing to the rest of the Lisbon sisters. Cemetary Party arrives with its distorted, bass-like synthesizer strike along with atmospheric, melodic guitar riffs, and momentum-built arrangement as things begin to darken. The track plays reference to the party of the Lisbon girls that would lay the ground works for tragedy. Especially with the track featuring an eerie, ominous choir in the background.

Dark Messages is another dark track with warbling textures and synthesizer arrangements along with layers of melodic vibraphone keys. The track conveys the mood of isolation concerning the Lisbon girls as the vibraphone shimmers throughout the track along with the warbling bass synthesizer. The Word "Hurricane" arrives with its smooth, wailing synthesizer accompaniment and slow, pulsating drums from Reitzell. Another synthesizer accompaniment arrives but in a more haunting, disenchanting tone as Reitzell plays the drums a bit faster. A choir-sounding synthesizer brings more chills as a person describes the definition of the word "hurricane" as pianos and wailing synthesizer distortions appear and everything gets broken. Dirty Trip arrives with its smooth, jazz-like arrangement of throbbing bass lines, Reitzell's smooth drums, and an evocative, transcending synthesizer accompaniment. Coming in after a minute or two is waves of guitar distortions that sweep through the track's jazzy arrangements along with a dreamy, shimmering synthesizer track and a melodic guitar riff.

Next is the theme to The Virgin Suicides entitled Highschool Lover that plays up to the same, melancholic piano melody of Playground Love but to the degree of something more amiss. With a soft, washy acoustic guitar and piano accompaniment, the track plays to the disconnection between the Lisbon Girls and the real world, particularly young boys in their neighborhood and Lux (Kirsten Dunst) longing for school hunk Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett). With an eerie, string-like accompaniment on the keyboard arriving, the sadness continues as Air plays up the same feeling the Lisbon Girls are having. Afternoon Sister arrives with its whistling, melodic keyboard track along with an acoustic guitar accompaniment that is followed by a dreamy arrangement from its synthesizer as it plays up to sadness surrounding the Lisbon Girls in grand, 70s melodrama. Ghost Song arrives with its melodic guitar and a striking, ominous synthesizer melody that is followed by a wailing, dense synthesizer as the feeling of death is arising.

Empty House arrives with its bass-beats and shimmering synthesizer accompaniment. Then comes this eerie, harmonium-like melody from the keyboard as the feeling of death is arising. Then comes a bass-synthesizer melody as the track's arrangements build up the momentum of something extremely dark with its whistling keyboard track as if ghosts are now singing. Dead Bodies arrive with a fast, striking piano track and pulsating drums from Brian Reitzell along with fast bass lines and shimmering tambourine accompaniments. The track gets faster as a wailing, choir-like synthesizer arrives along with eerie, shimmering synthesizer arrangements as things get more intense. The album's final track is Suicide Underground is the album's most eerie track. Led by distorted narration of the film (original narration was by Giovanni Ribisi) as an eerie, discordant synthesizer arrangement plays in the background with Hannah R. Hall saying her famous line, "Obviously doctor, you've never been a 13-year old girl" through some vocal distortions. The distorted, deep narration continues as Brian Reitzell plays a slow, pulsating drum track to the track’s haunting arrangements of synthesizers and its distorted waves of loops and acoustic guitar washes.

The only real flaw in Air's film score to the film's soundtrack, like the film itself is that it's too bizarre for some, particularly towards the end where things get even stranger and more isolating. Then again, Air was conveying the same feeling Sofia Coppola wanted from the audience as they watch the film. While Air's soundtrack is a bit stranger than their debut, the album remains consistent and alluring in its mood. There are no boring spots throughout the album. Fans of Air would likely to pick this up just to hear all the scores in its arrangements. More casual music fans would best, pick up the Original Soundtrack featuring the hits of the 70s plus two tracks from Air, Ce Matin La from Moon Safari and an alternate version of Playground Love. In the end, Air's score to The Virgin Suicides is an enjoyable listen for fans of the duo and for those who loved the film itself.

Air Reviews: (Moon Safari) - (10,000 Hz Legend) - (Walkie Talkie) - (Pocket Symphony) - (Love 2)

Sofia Coppola Soundtracks: The Virgin Suicides OST - Lost in Translation OST - Marie Antoinette OST - (The Bling Ring OST)

© thevoid99 2013

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

End of Hiatus/New NIN Song "Came Back Haunted"

Well, that was a short hiatus due to uncertainty and lack of inspiration. All it took was the new Nine Inch Nails song Came Back Haunted from the band's upcoming album Hesitation Marks set for release on 9/3/13.

Through this link. You can hear the song in its entirety. It's definitely a mix of old-school NIN ala Pretty Hate Machine with production styles of The Downward Spiral with a bit of With Teeth in the mix filled with some sprinkling synths, snarling lyrics, swarming guitars, and all sorts of crazy shit. Hear it now or I will layeth the smacketh down on all of your candyasses.

Void... out.