Moonlight [OST] (CD)

Nicholas Britell’s score for the lovely Moonlight is every bit as gorgeous and affecting as the film. Plaintive, aching strings anchor many of Brittel’s sensitive, intelligent compositions including “Little’s Theme” and “Chiron’s Theme.” There’s even a chopped and screwed version of the latter track — the reworking gives the song an interesting depth, but you won’t initially think “chopped and screwed” when you hear it. Tracks by Goodie Mob, Boris Gardiner, and Barbara Lewis are welcome contributions, bringing added texture and life to the mix. The soundtrack conjures memories and emotions familiar to viewers of the film, but even those who haven’t seen the picture will enjoy Britell’s incredible orchestral works.

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Stranger Things, Vol. 1 [Original Series Soundtrack] (CD)

The soundtrack to this summer’s throwback horror series Stranger Things has been getting just as much buzz as the show itself, and with good reason. Scored by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, members of the Austin, TX synthwave group S U R V I V E, the soundtrack hits all the right notes for fans of John Carpenter (both the movies and the music) and classic ‘80s horror. Vol. 1 starts with the show’s now iconic opening theme, seamlessly moving from tracks that are eerie and evocative, hard-hitting and tense, and even gentle and soothing. You don’t even need to have seen the show to dig these retro synth tunes; this first volume of the soundtrack stands on its own.

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Beauty And The Beast (2017) [OST] (CD)

It's been more than 25 years since the original Beauty and the Beast hit movie screens. It was a return to full form for Disney as every single song seemed to become part of the great American songbook. Find someone under the age of 40 who can't hum the melodies to "Be Our Guest." It's one of those songs that transcend the film it's from to become a part of our culture. It's a delight to hear the updated rearranged versions for the new live-action remake. Using the original voices of its stars - Emma Watson, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, and Luke Evans - their performances are on par with some of the best musical singers of Broadway. Josh Gad's showstopping performance of "Gaston" brings a type of physicality and cheery comic book quality that reminds you why he crossed into the world of cinema. His voice is like a cartoon come to life! In homage to Celine Dion's initial take on the Beauty and the Beast theme, she returns with one the film's new songs, "How Does a Moment Last Forever." She embodies that classic spirit of pop vocal prowess that is currently missing (and wanted) in contemporary pop. There's this bravado that she has and few can ever touch. Similarly, Josh Groban gives a sensitive performance to the new ballad "Evermore." His operatic, deep voice has a depth and power that shows him off as a virtuoso always aiming for perfection. Between this and the songs of La La Land and Hamilton last year, hopefully the power of the American musical returns. Beauty and the Beast has a beautiful and lush soundtrack that most films currently shy away from, and these songs will be forever ageless.

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