Category Archives: Music

Man of Steal: Trailer for rising superhero uses ode to fallen wizard

“You… shall not… use my death music for yet another reboot of yet another superhero movie!”

We’ll talk more about “The Dark Knight Rises,” because that was an amazing movie. For one thing, it put cops in a really good light, but elaborating on that would be dancing with spoilers. Still, I wanted to call the cops during the trailers before that movie, for music theft.

It happened during the preview for “Man of Steel,” the Superman reboot coming from “Watchmen” director Zack Snyder. As you watch this trailer, listen to the music:

Sound familiar? Remind you of sad hobbits? It should:

“Man of Steel” used “The Bridge of Khazad-dûm,” an orchestral piece composed by Howard Shore for “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.” It plays as the fellowship escape a horde of orcs, dance across a crumbling bridge, dodge arrows and escape a balrog. Almost everyone: Gandalf clinging for his life off the side of a bridge thanks to an extremely lucky whipstroke, tells the rest of those fools to fly, then falls. Because the hobbits in the fellowship hadn’t seen “The Two Towers” yet, they didn’t know that Gandalf put a hurt on that huge hellbeast, so they were kind of depressed.

As if you couldn’t tell how sad everyone was, Shore composed arguably one of the most heartbreaking sequences of music ever composed. (Jump to about 4:42 for the good stuff.) The phrase is about 1:20 long and puts a sadness in you that two hours of Greg Edmonson couldn’t match. Director Peter Jackson brilliantly hit the mute button and kept Shore’s music running, smartly silencing the sound of sniveling, sniffling hobbits.

In a nutshell: It’s not like the “Man of Steel” trailer lifted a piece of classical music. It used a piece of music specifically made for one of literature’s most recognized scenes. Sure, the trailer makers probably had the rights. But it ain’t right.

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Singer’s pitch down, but energy up on Passion Pit’s new album

While I’m not a fan of most pop music, I’m a sucker for indie pop. Foster the People, OK Go, Sleigh Bells, Joe Hedges, MGMT — I could listen to all those bands all day and not miss prog-rock much.

File Passion Pit in with that group. The band’s second full-length album, “Gossamer,” is slated for release on Tuesday. Thanks to NPR streaming it on its site, I’ve preordered the album on iTunes to get a bonus track.

While Michael Angelakos continues to use his almost signature falsetto, the notes aren’t as high as they usually are. In fact, I don’t think he hits any notes higher than the ones in “Make Light,” from “Manners.” The lower notes make the songs on Gossamer feel evolved and more cohesive.

Much like its first album, “Gossamer” is driven by keyboards and samples, and features a charged, energetic pace that masks some of the pensive, morose lyrics. There’s some clever passages, too, in a style reminiscent of “Sleepyhead” — again from the first album. But there are many more influences, including some Imogen Heap-style engineered harmonies, some Modest Mouse marching mirth and even some throwbacks to R&B slow jams.

“Take a Walk,” the album’s opener, is an anthemic testament to aging, if such a subject can be anthemic. But I’ve played that song more times than I can count. I also like the hectic sampling in “I’ll Be Alright,” the power choruses in “Constant Conversations” and the layers in “Mirrored Sea.” There’s a lot of variety and gear-changing in “Gossamer,” giving the album a lot of replay value. And each song features a myriad of musical lines that will keep sharp-eared listeners discovering new things for months.

Fans have been waiting for this album for three years; it’s worth the wait.

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Disney + Dali + Opeth = Holy crap that’s cool

Usually, any combination of three separate things I like doesn’t end up so well. But this combo of Disney, Dali and Opeth is pretty sweet:

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New Devo song, video catchy like virus

I really have no idea why I never got into Devo. And I’m kicking myself for it. (Not too hard, of course. Marching band gave me phenomenally strong legs.)

ANYWAY… I can’t stop spinning “Don’t Shoot (I’m: a Man).” The song sounds incredible: Devo infused today’s musical innovations and technology with the spirit and vibe of the ’80s. The video looks like it’s done by a guy who used to do Target commercials, then got fired, but couldn’t get the palette out of his head. The “Don’t taze me, bro” chorus the perfect ending. Check it out:

Scott Meeker, J Magazine overlord, saw the band live last weekend. He had this report about the concert:

It was one of those unlikely rock ‘n’ roll moments.

The Buzz Under the Stars concert lineup at Kansas City’s City Market last weekend was headlined by singer-songwriter Ben Folds, who put on a great show, and bands such as Silversun Pickups and Against Me.

But squeezed in the middle of the lineup was Devo — a group of 60-somethings clad in matching grey uniforms and masks (and, later, those familiar yellow radiation suits and energy dome hats) that put their much younger peers to shame.

Mixing old songs like “Whip It” and their off-kilter cover of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” with selections from “Something for Everyone,” the band’s first album in 20 years, their set was part cheesy nostalgia act, part mind-blowing head trip into some bizarro future world where the ’80s is a sacred religion, and all fun.

Catchy new songs such as “Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man)” were backed by eye-popping video backdrops featuring an angry kitty, a frightened-looking windsock and a french fry mating with a doughnut. It was over-the-top, but in a good way, and the crowd ate it up. Very “geek-out” worthy.

(In an unrelated note: Around the same time at the other end of I-70 in St. Louis, Kings of Leon walked off the stage three songs into their set when a pigeon pooped into the mouth of their bass player. If your “sex is on fire,” bird poop will apparently put it right out.)

New album welcomes former guitarist

Four words sum up my feelings about Sevendust’s new album, “Cold Day Memory”: Welcome back, Clint Lowery.

The guitarist (pictured at right) left the band in 2004 to join his brother’s effort, Dark New Day, but returned in 2008. Neither Lowery nor Sevendust appeared bettered by the split, and a few listens of the new album tell me it’s a welcome reunion. (Cue up the song “Prodigal Son.”)

I’ve listened to the new CD only a few times, but it sounds like vintage Sevendust with some polyrhythmic enhancements. “Karma” and “Splinter” stand out with 6/8 beats and intricate phrases. “Unraveled,” which has been playing like crazy on rock radio, and “Forever” feature Lajon Witherspoon’s blistering vocals and the band’s traditional use of unison musical phrases that pack a punch to the gut (in a good way).

I’ve read some reviews that pan the effort, calling the new CD too repetitive and uninspiring. Though I disagree, “Cold Day Memory” doesn’t give me enough evidence to mount a solid debate. Several of the album’s latter songs blend together, there’s little variety and there’s no ethereal, haunting song such as “Skeleton Song” or “Xmas Day.” (The reason that void stands out is because the band is so damn good writing those types of songs. Listen to “Angel’s Son” and tell me you don’t feel your spine quiver.)

But overall, I’m pleased with the effort. As I told design chief and fellow Sevendust fan Brent Fisher, this is the album I’ve been waiting for since 2003’s “Seasons.” I can’t put my finger on it, but Lowery’s return leads to a more full sound. “Cold Day Memory” gets the band on track; now it can return to the musical growth it enjoyed before Lowery’s departure.

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As promised: Biffy Clyro vids posted

I wanted to find the official video for “Mountains,” but all I found was a crappy copy with bad sound. So we’ll go with the band’s latest, “Bubbles.”

Oh, what the heck. Let’s also do “That Golden Rule.” I like this song better, anyway. Both are from Only Revolutions.

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Gloriana brings band-mentality to country

Holy crap. There’s a country band that plays like a band. I’d like to introduce y’all to Gloriana:

Those of you who know me know I lean toward prog-rock and metal. So I’m surprised I like this country band so much. There’s a lot to like:

  • Tom Gossin and the rest of the singers leave out that country-singer drawl that grates on my nerves.
  • The guitar chorus is significant, because you usually don’t hear country songs that base a chorus on an instrumental hook. When layered with the vocals, it creates a full tonal wall that captures the mood of the song PERFECTLY.
  • A lot of attention is paid to all of the instruments. Let’s face it: Most country bands are glorified karaoke machines for singers. Not Gloriana.

The band is asking for your help to win the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Artist. Go here and vote for them, because they deserve it, in my opinion.

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OK Go videos compete for geeky devotion

Scott called it. He knew I’d geek out over the latest OK Go, marching band-inspired video for “This Too Shall Pass”:

Until I saw the latest, Rube Goldberg-inspired video for OK Go’s “This Too Shall Pass”:

Let’s just crown OK Go the kings of music videos. Crown ’em. But which version is better?

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Reksider, Burn Notice, Lost 24-style

Here’s a couple of things that have me geeked out during a sick day with my stepson, who definitely has a fever because of germs.

Music: Reksider. I don’t know much about him, other than he has put together some ambient electronica hip-hop music that I can’t stop shoving in my earholes. Skip the first song on this Reksider MySpace playlist; it’s kinda dumb. Magic Touch and Two Beat One Heart are my favorites.

TV: Burn Notice returns tonight! I love Lost, FlashForward, Fringe and other complicated, sci-fi shows and Burn Notice is neither complicated nor sci-fi. But it features great writing, interesting characters and Bruce Campbell in the best role that doesn’t involve zombies. Burn Notice is at 9 p.m. tonight on the USA Network.

Oh, the below video is pretty cool, too. It’s the crash of Oceanic 815 in “24” style.

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Stuck in my head: An ‘Up’-lifting song

I came across this video about a week ago on albinoblacksheep.com. The music is composed entirely from sounds and music from “Up,” the recent Pixar movie. Words can’t describe it. Now it can be stuck in your head, too!

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