Thom Yorke – Suspiria

At this point, almost anything connected to the Radiohead name / brand will receive glowing reviews, accolades by those “in the know”, and give indie elitists a reason to feel like an indie elitist. Which really doesn’t make any sense – Radiohead are one of the biggest bands in the world, ever. It’s always been a a bit of a curious thing that makes me laugh. Anyway, when I read that Thom Yorke was scoring the soundtrack to the remake of the film Suspiria I was intrigued. Not so much by the original 70’s film’s history or soundtrack and how the new film and Yorke’s soundtrack would compare. I was wondering how Yorke’s soundtrack work would compare to Jonny Greenwood’s – his partner in Radiohead who has made a name for himself as a film soundtrack composer.

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Gary & Walter (The Muppets) – Man or Muppet

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

This is truly a non cynical post – The Muppets and the songs they’ve sung are as meaningful to me at 36 as they were when I was 8. Sure, there is a vocal segment of the fan base that refuses to like anything associated with The Muppets in the post Jim Henson era – their loss, I say. 2011 brought a reboot to the movie series with a smart and funny screenplay by Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller. A slew of high-profile Hollywood stars lent their talents to the movie (including Segel). The soundtrack was made up of songs penned by half of the New Zealand comedy / folk duo, Flight of the Conchords. Bret McKenzie imbues the songs with wit, humor, and the ability to connect with adults and children alike – a necessary ingredient for songs associated with the Muppets. Man or Muppet is the 1st song associated with the Muppets to win an Oscar, and deservedly so – it is imbued with a timeless quality that fits within the Muppets canon perfectly. A duet between Gary (Jason Segel) and Walter, it deals with the characters trying to figure out who they are – something we all face in the real world at one time or another. The segment shows Walter coming face to face with a human version of himself (Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory), while Gary faces his Muppet possibilities. McKenzie’s goal with this track was to come up with something “hilarious and beautiful”. He succeeded on every count. The track looks to the power ballads of the 80’s for inspiration, spun into a mix worth of the Muppets. It can be a machismo world, something I tend to wholeheartedly reject. I know who I am when I listen to these lyrics “If I’m a Muppet then I’m a very manly Muppet / If I’m a man that makes me a Muppet of a man”.

Bob Dylan – Things Have Changed

Dylan

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

Resignation and regret often times go hand in hand. I’ve always been drawn to songs and artists that can convey these sentiments with ease and the silver screen is no exception. After we collectively breathed a sigh of relief at surviving the oft prophesied Apocalypse that was scheduled to land on January 1, 2000 we could settle into our movie watching routines. Wonder Boys was a financial failure on every level imaginable; conversely it was an artistic triumph for every writer, actor, actress, producer, director, and musician involved. It starred Michael Douglas as a pot addicted professor struggling to write a 2nd novel who also happened to be having an affair with his bosses wife. It’s supporting cast included Robert Downey Jr. (Ironman), Tobey Maguire (Spiderman), and Katie Holmes (Rachel Dawes from Batman). The soundtrack was a complimentary masterpiece, featuring John Lennon, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan. Dylan’s song written exclusively for the movie, Things Have Changed, signaled a possible new direction for him – apathy. Inhabiting the mindset of Grady (played by Michael Douglas), Dylan allows resignation to bleed through in a way that hasn’t been equaled. This is not the hopeful Bob Dylan of the 60’s or the rabble-rouser who sang The Hurricane – this is Bob Dylan saying “I used to care / but things have changed”. Brilliant as Dylan is, I foolishly expected him to continue on the path this song seemed to lay out – he would lighten up, change directions, and never really come back to this piercing sigh of indifference. I suppose he had so convincingly inhabited the mindset of Grady that I never realized he was acting out a part. The video is spliced into scenes from the film, along with notable guest appearances. This is Bob Dylan at his finest.

Haiku Salut – Tricolore

Haiku

Some of my favorite scenes in movies are forever intertwined with the music playing at the time. Thinking back to Ghost World, by the far the most touching scene was the end sequence where some very adult decisions and realizations about life are made. David Kitay’s Theme From Ghost World lends the scene the emotional weight needed to draw the viewer / listener in. The same thing could be said about the end scene of Donnie Darko while Michael Andrews & Gary Jules version of Mad World tugs at the heartstrings. Deryshire’s (that’s in England) Haiku Salut have created an impressive debut that serves as the soundtrack to an imaginary film.

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Mono – Life In Mono

Mono

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

In 1998 I went to see a film adaptation of Great Expectations starring Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow (since this is a music site, I guess I should say Chris Martin of Coldplay’s wife). I’d consider the film to be slightly underrated – the reviews were mediocre but I thought the updated names and quickening of the pace compared to the book were changes I could live with. The previews for the film had featured music that was haunting and seemed to fit the film perfectly. The track of course was “Life in Mono” by the UK band Mono and it is a track that I’ve come back to often over the last 15 years. The song starts out in an entrancing manner, trip-hop beat married to a pop song structure. Vocals come courtesy of Siobhan de Maré and are simply perfect. Evocative, sexy – all wrapped up in an air of mystery. Martin Virgo’s musical backing recalls a 60’s spy film and for good reason – it features a sample from “The ICPRESS FILE” by John Barry (of James Bond fame). At the time the duo were compared to Portishead which I can see, but I’d say they live in a world all of their own. The track seems like it was a bigger hit than it actually was – it hit #70 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the US (#26 on the Modern Rock charts). Emma Bunton of Spice Girls fame later covered this track – and it is a tribute to the songwriters that her version is so enchanting as well. Key lyrics:

The tree-lined avenue
Begins to fade from view
Drowning past regrets
In tea and cigarettes
But I can’t seem to forget
When you came along

Ingenue,
Ingenue,
I just don’t know what to do