Music & More

July 29, 2014

Bumbershoot Reveals 2014 Line-Up

Music lovers in the Pacific Northwest have been digging Bumbershoot for 44 years. And even if you’ve been attending the festival since 1971, the inaugural Bumbershoot year, the 2014 line-up is mind-blowingly swell. This year Bumbershoot will run from August 30 until September 1 at Seattle Center. Talent includes Foster the People, J. Cole, The Replacements, Wu-Tang Clan, The Head and The Heart, Elvis Costello and the Imposters, Panic! At The Disco, ScHoolboy Q and very many more. Clearly, something for all tastes and desires: over 100 musical acts in all. As appropriate, local music will be well-represented, from headliners …continue reading

Legendary Singer/Songwriter Lou Reed Dead at 71

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Legendary singer/songwriter Lou Reed died today of as yet undisclosed causes. He was 71. His literary agent, Andrew Wylie, told The New York Times that he “believed that his cause of death was related to a liver transplant Mr. Reed had earlier this year.” From the NYT: Mr. Reed played the sport of alienating listeners, defending the right to contradict himself in hostile interviews, to contradict his transgressive image by idealizing sweet or old-fashioned values in word or sound, or to present intuition as blunt logic.“I’ve always believed that there’s an amazing number of things you can do through a …continue reading

Prisoners and Gravity: 2 icy scores

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In my experience, film music is meant to augment the story the film tells. As it unspools, the music can heighten tension, reveal character or conflict, and express things that actors and writers and directors and editors find elusive. Like that of aroma, the effect of music on one’s emotions can be hard to pin down and harder still to describe. Think of the burst of music when the shark appears in Jaws. John Williams brings forth the full power of the orchestra, using melody and massive color to tell us this shark is huge and what it can do …continue reading

Official Truth: 101 Proof: The Inside Story of Pantera by Rex Brown

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A decade after they were torn asunder, super metal group, Pantera, has more than seven million Facebook fans. Numbers like would be a major feat for an active group, never mind an essentially dead one. And make no mistake, though three of the original four bandmembers are still alive, Pantera is no more, nor will it be. That much is clear from Official Truth: 101 Proof: The Inside Story of Pantera (DaCapo). Of course, the pivotal moment in Pantera’s story comes near the end. It’s a part that was documented in Zac Crain’s very compelling Black Tooth Grin: The High …continue reading

New CD: Megan Hilty

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Megan Hilty, who’s starred on Broadway as Glinda in Wicked and now appears weekly as Ivy on “Smash,” has just released her first solo CD, “It Happens All the Time.” •• Instead of what I expected, a collection of the usual show tunes and standards, Megan has collected 10 of her favorite songs, songs that speak to her and that she hopes will speak to us. And for the most part, she nails it. These are heartache songs, for the most part, and you can hear her heartbreak coming through each performance. •• By far the standout of the album is “Wise …continue reading

New Soundtrack: Bombshell

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Bombshell? you may be wondering. What’s Bombshell? Well, Bombshell is the musical that was produced last season on the TV series “Smash” — and what with so many songs, all of them composer by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, it seemed (to me) a natural for there to be an actual cast recording. I’m thrilled someone else thought so, too. •• This 22-song CD contains the entire Bombshell score as recorded for the TV series. While having it is terrific, I wish it had been a bit more than just the TV recordings: an actual cast recording of the show, not …continue reading

An Interview with Film Composer Joe Kraemer

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Joe Kraemer has been teasing the film business for years with his moody, melodic scores. He composed the music for The Way of the Gun some years back, then did a lot of television and documentary work. Now he’s returned to the big screen with Jack Reacher, the new Tom Cruise movie. The score, which is available from La-La Land Records, is darkly melodic, and one can hear, now and then, the influences of John Williams, John Barry, and Michael Giacchino. But the sound is really all Kraemer, and his work is a breath of fresh air in a film-music …continue reading

New soundtrack: Skyfall

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For me, James Bond movies aren’t just about the movie. They’re also about the music. John Barry’s scores for the first few films got me into movie music in the first place — and now, all these years later, a new composer has taken the reigns. •• Thomas Newman, a wonderful and gifted composer — has scored Skyfall, and it’s a brilliant piece of work, as surprising and as welcome as the film itself. His score is fast, propulsive, and powerful — and it has something recent 007 scores have lacked: melody. Newman brings his usual sense of melody to the …continue reading

New Soundtrack: Lincoln

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The partnership of Steven Spielberg and John Williams is now 40 years strong. Starting with The Sugarland Express and Jaws, Williams has composed the music for every Spielberg film except The Color Purple. And every time they work together, they magic. Both men have been very vocal about their admiration for each other’s work, and the director has recut entire sequences to match the composer’s music, rather than force the composer’s work into an edit. Their collaboration is a testament to how film and music can work together, each there for the other, each augmenting and illuminating the other. •• Now …continue reading

New Soundtrack: Cloud Atlas

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As I type these words, I haven’t seen Cloud Atlas yet. But I’ve been listening to the music for almost two weeks now. Along with the extraordinary visuals in the extended trailer online, I was taken with the music from the start. A little research told me most of the trailer’s music wasn’t from the film — but one of the main themes was, and that was enough to whet my appetite for more. •• The movie is directed by three directors, Larry and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. And the score is composed by three composers, Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil, …continue reading