Monday, March 25, 2013

Top 5 Soundtracks for Romantic Comedies

It seems the best way to discover new music these days is to watch movies and hopefully stumble upon good music within the movie (at least for me). Strange enough, only romantic comedies do this for me. This list consists of movies that I have seen, so if you think I've missed a really good movie soundtrack, do say something in the comments.

Without further ado, here are my top 5 so far:

5. Silver Linings Playbook

I admit, the soundtrack is barely noticeable, except for its overwhelming love for Stevie Wonder.

Best musical moment: The scene outside the theater where Pat once again goes bonkers over "My Cheri Amor". The pleasant, jolly musical backdrop to Pat's inner turmoil is nothing short of genius, and in my experience, quite true in real life. Ever tried cheering yourself up with 'happy' music with a broken heart?

4. Garden State

This movie introduced me to The Shins, Zero 7, and Nick Drake, and I felt this movie would've sucked if it weren't for the great soundtrack (and Natalie Portman).

Best musical moment: The airport scene, with Frou Frou's "Let Go" in the background.

3. Crazy Stupid Love

This movie introduced me to The Middle East, and a really quirky, mexican-flavored reggae version of the song "Animal" by Miike Snow. Late Night Alumni is also here.

Best Musical Moment: Not surprisingly, the end scene with Middle East's "Blood". I guess I'm a sucker for songs that close a movie really well (see number 4).

2. 500 Days of Summer

This movie introduced me to The Smiths, Temper Trap, and Carla Bruni.

Best Musical Scene: It involves a song I don't even particularly like - it's the scene where ailing Tom distracts himself with architecture while Summer gets married, with Wolfmother's "Vagabond" in the background. It's the same concept used in Silver Linings Playbook - joyous, uplifting music masking inner turmoil.

1. Celeste and Jesse Forever

I have to admit - I really only made this stupid list just so I could have an excuse to heap praise over this movie's spectacular soundtrack. The movie itself isn't that good compared to the others on this list (except maybe for Garden State), but the music here is just fabulous. This is probably the only movie where the soundtrack literally jumped out of the screen and compelled me to go look for each and every song. It introduced me to a bevy of artists I've never heard of before (Vetiver, Sunny Levine, Mr. Little Jeans, Shabazz Palaces, Donnie & Joe Emerson, etc) and a couple of good oldies.

Best musical moment(s): This is a double whammy: The wedding scene with Sunny Levine's "No Other Plans" playing in the background; and the scene right after where Celeste is outside the tents drinking liquor and smoking a cigarette while watching the fireworks, with Donnie & Joe Emerson's "Baby" providing a nice musical backdrop. So much awesome music.

The Honorables:


Just because it had a very clever ending with the cut-out cartoons of Arthur and his lady accompanied by Daniel Merriweather's "Little Bit Better".

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Weeks Later: Franco Reyes' Soul (Adventurer)

Photo by Mark Perez
It's been a couple of weeks since the release of "Soul Adventurer", and it still hasn't loosened its grip on a lot of people's ears (I know mine are still hooked). Yes, it's that awesome of an album it deserves another post in this blog. There are certainly a lot of areas the review failed to cover, something that has become apparent after numerous "tweaks" since it was published. This post aims to address all the pent-up compulsions once and for all.

As already stated, it's been several weeks, and any person who has consistently listened to the same album over and over will surely notice the bells and whistles, quirks, and the occasional dud. Speaking of duds, I have the same opinion of Razor since day one, that is - it's quite underwhelming considering it's surrounded by tracks that are above-average at the very least. This one is just plain average, reminiscent of the craft work of one Dave Grohl and company in the Foo Fighters' "One By One" album where most songs seem bored with themselves. It's a one off.

Then there's the overuse of "jah" in lieu of the more conventional "the" in the chorus of Uprising. One or two strategically placed jahs would have sufficed, any more seems like taking the rasta vibe a bit too seriously. Well, the song actually goes all-out rasta by the end so I guess all the left-handed passing of the doobie (or dutchie, or kouchie) was warranted.

Also, what's up with A Prayer? Was the line "then it just hit me" a conscious stylistic decision or a gaping deficiency in subject-verb agreement?

Nitpicking aside, yes, this is still quite the amazing album. Songs like Renewal have slowly risen from the rubble to become one of the top tracks, at first disguising itself as a mellow track with the signature reggae up-stroke over a rare Franco falsetto (a first), but halfway through, listeners are shown subtle signs of riffage that eventually explode into one of the heaviest, swirling riffs this album has to offer - all over the squeals of the lead guitar on wah. This particular section of the album is just pure zoned-out unadulterated rock paradise - something I always knew someone like Reyes is capable of with eyes closed. It's pretty hard to put on paper, but you can definitely feel it while listening to the song (go do it now if you haven't).

Blame is practically the musical representation of red wine, vastly improved after more than ten years since it first debuted as a "Frank!" song. Since its inception, the verses have been reprogrammed to sound starker than the original, giving off a sense of urgency over the original's slightly whiny grunge melancholy. Despite the changes, the chorus is fine untouched. It's as effective and catchy as it was, and could go down as one of the best choruses in the album, if not in Reyes' entire catalog. Hefty claims, yes. And it certainly gives Across The Milky Way a run for its money.

It's astonishing that no other Filipino rock musician could step up to the musical plate the way Reyes does, and it's been a long wait before he showed up. Sure, there are the greats and some others who have the potential, but they are nowhere near the same level of polish and sophistication as Reyes musically. He may not be a chart-topper like the Eraserheads once were, but he has already achieved what most musicians, including the Eraserheads, could only dream of.

Do you know of any Filipino musicians that could give Franco a run for his money? Post them in the comments.