Danny Elfman never lets us down. Be it the bold and cold Batman and Batman Returns scores, the thrillingly heroic and silly Pee-wee's Big Adventure soundtrack, or the iconic and ubiquitous “The Simpsons Theme,” his music has been the soundtrack to the lives of the modern escapists. If you were born in the 1960s or later, Danny Elfman is your Erich Wolfgang Korngold, setting moods in exotic locals and freeing our minds to ridiculous adventure. Say what you will about this latest addition to the collection of Johnny Depp CGI and cosmetic fiascoes, but Elfman delivers in his dependable and effusive way for the Alice Through the Looking Glass soundtrack. Themes and melodies twist and glide, from major key valleys down into minor key caverns and gullies, then resolve somewhere in between. The soundtrack also features Pink’s out-of-place but bumping “Just Like Fire.”Read more
Lost Themes II delivers 11 compelling new tracks for which fans can continue to score movies in their minds. The musical world here is a wider one than that of its predecessor. More electric and acoustic guitar flesh out the songs, still driven by Carpenter's trademark minimal synth.Read more
The critically acclaimed documentary Amy showed in heartbreaking detail the rise and tragic downfall of Amy Winehouse, who was easily one of the most talented vocalists of her generation. To satiate fans who sadly will never see a third Amy Winehouse album, the Amy soundtrack corrals various live and rare tracks by Winehouse along with Antonio Pinto’s moving score. With another artist, this could feel gratuitous or like grasping at straws, but not so here. Winehouse’s variations on her songs often reveal new shades. A downtempo version of Back to Black’s “Unholy War” supersedes the original, its morose intensity better fitting the lyrics’ torch-song devotion. Triumphant live versions of “Rehab” and “Love Is a Losing Game” show an artist at the height of her powers. “Like Smoke” is the single that could have been, and its demo version is a nice window into the song’s development before adding Nas’ rap. Though nothing could fill the place in fans’ hearts where Amy once was, the Amy soundtrack is a worthy keepsake and companion to the superb documentary.Read more
Montage of Heck the film gave Nirvana fans unprecedented access to home movies taken of Kurt Cobain, a man so mythologized that it served to humanize him once again. The soundtrack to the film, consisting of home demos recorded by Cobain, does the same for Cobain as a songwriter. While Nirvana’s catalog was all too brief, it was also nearly perfect. The soundtrack for Montage of Heck gives us a glimpse into Cobain’s process and how these songs formed. A distortion-free version of “Sappy” features slightly different lyrics and benefits from its simplicity, slowed down as Cobain’s voice barely rising above a deep whisper. A cover of The Beatles’ “And I Love Her” is paralyzing, solidifying the line between The Beatles and Nirvana and highlighting how Cobain used the band’s template to write direct, immediately memorable songs. It’s a thrill for fans to hear a song like “Been a Son” at its genesis, just a few strums on an unplugged electric guitar, nonsense lyrics and the song’s indelible melody. Some of the more jagged experiments could’ve stayed stashed away, but as a whole, they paint a broader image of Cobain than what we’re used to—the Cobain who was funny, who loved indie rock before it was a cliché, who made artful collage mixtapes and who didn’t hit it out of the park every single time. Longtime Nirvana fans won’t want to miss this experience.
No Star Wars fan is gonna want to be without this. Williams’ scores are characters themselves within films, from the haunting two-note Jaws theme to Darth Vader’s imperial march, taking instantly recognizable yet deceptively simple note sequences and implanting them in film-goers’ brains forever. Collect this part of movie history with another genius piece from the master of film scores, John Williams!Read more
John Carpenter, known mostly for directing movies such as Halloween, Escape From New York and Big Trouble In Little China is releasing his first ever solo album (not accompanying a film). That’s right, not only is the man a landmark director he is also a pioneer in the minimalist synth genre. In collaboration with his son Cody (of the band Ludrium) and his godson Daniel Davies (who composed the songs for I, Frankenstein) Lost Themes is an excellent portrayal of Carpenter’s damn near trademark sound that we as moviegoers have unknowingly heard for decades. Without a celluloid backdrop with which to re-purpose these cinematic hypnotic synthesizers or erupting guitars, Carpenter’s compositions take on a narrative life of their own. The nine-track opus starts strong with the menacing “Vortex.” A track which immediately stands alongside any contemporary electronic musician out there today. It is not until you get to “Mystery” that the out and out epic horror feel of the work jumps out. “Night,” the final track on the album, is an atmospheric epilogue that fades out of view as somberly as the imaginary pictures that have danced in your head.Read more