Saturday, May 18, 2013

It's going to be fine

The short version:
Darren Korb—Bastion: 9/10
NEEDTOBREATHE—Caercas Blancas EP: 3/10
Jessica Curry—Dear Esther: 3/10
Ari Pulkkinen—Shadowgrounds: 3/10
Ari Pulkkinen—Shadowgrounds Survivor: 3/10
Dave S-B—Revenge of the Titans: 2/10
Jason Graves—Tiberian Twilight: 8/10
Kid Cudi—Indicud: 4/10
Baz Luhrmann / Various Artists—The Great Gatsby: 5/10
Andrew Bayer—If It Were You, We'd Never Leave: 9/10
Youngblood Hawke—Wake Up: 7/10

I got Bastion through one of the Humble Bundles, and its soundtrack by Darren Korb came with it, which is great, because it's really fantastic.  It's unusual and wonderful and just makes me happy.  It's heavy with acoustic guitars and catchy beats, giving it a Fireflyesque feel, but it does seem to use some stock, prerecorded samples—From Wharf to Wilds clearly has the same melody as Seven Lives by Enigma, for example.  The end theme Setting Sail, Coming Home is my favorite, and the short opening tune A Proper Story is close behind.  It's great enough that I initially passed on the game after playing the demo but now I want to give it a shot just because the music is so great.

NEEDTOBREATHE have a free EP, Caercas Blancas, with a couple studio tracks, a demo, and a couple live tracks.  They're not exactly one of my favorite bands to begin with, but I think it's really only worth picking up if you're a big fan.  White Fences is the best on it, and it's merely decent.

Jessica Curry's Dear Esther soundtrack is really boring.  Not nearly as boring as the game, but still pretty boring.  The last track The Code is the highlight.  (This is not the same soundtrack that is available on Spotify; I'm not sure what's up.)

Ari Pulkkinen's soundtracks for Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds Survivor also came from a Humble Bundle, and they're nothing to be excited about.  Valley of Shadow from the former is the best track and kind of reminds me of The Neverending Story for some reason, but overall both are bland.

My final Humble Bundle acquisition in the batch, Dave S-B's soundtrack for Revenge of the Titans was even more boring.

Tiberian Twilight was such a disappointingly terrible game that I somehow managed to completely ignore Jason Graves's excellent soundtrack until now.  The whole soundtrack itself seems entirely out of place in a real-time strategy game, let alone one as bad as Tiberian Twilight.  Presumably some of these tracks are from cinematic cutscenes and they would certainly make sense there, but it's music that tells a story, which just isn't appropriate for the game.  Maybe that's how I managed to play through the whole game without realizing how good the music was.  The Prophet's Ascension is long but lovely, Whatever It Takes seems like it would fit well in The Avengers, and The Pacific Hub is just very pretty.

Kid Cudi is a great producer and not a very good rapper.  He has a strange off-key vocal style that often I find sort of endearing, but it's mostly just infuriating on his latest CD IndicudJust What I Am, Young Lady, and Cold Blooded are the best tracks on the album, and the vocals on those are actually pretty decent.  But then there's stuff like Girls featuring Too $hort (ugh) that makes me want to drink bleach.  Even as one of the worst tracks on the disc the background instrumentals are still relatively decent if a bit sparse, but both his and $hort's vocals are horrible, and it's enough to make me wonder if Cudi would be better just producing for other artists.

The soundtrack for the Baz Luhrmann film The Great Gatsby is weird.  There are a lot of decent tracks on it but nothing great.  Gotye's Hearts a Mess is probably the best thing on it, but it's taken straight from his album Like Drawing Blood and not new material.  The cover of Beyoncé's Crazy in Love by Emeli Sandé and the Bryan Ferry Orchestra is kind of hilariously cute but I'd be hard-pressed to call it great.  And Back to Black by Beyoncé and André 3000 is sultry and strange.  (That's right; Beyoncé is on here but not singing her own song.)  There are also tracks by Florence and the Machine, Sia, Nero, Lana Del Rey, and other recognizable names, and all of it's kind of middling and bizarre.  (Maybe it will grow on me.)  But still less bizarre than Moulin Rouge.

Andrew Bayer's If It Were You, We'd Never Leave is wonderful not-quite-fully-instrumental electronica.  The beats are good but they aren't the only focus; this isn't really dance music, and it's full of emotional, well-crafted pieces packed with intriguing sounds.  Echo is the best track on the album, and then Lose Sight and Gaff's Eulogy.  Lose Sight is particularly interesting to me; it sounds like a remix of an Imogen Heap song that doesn't exist.

Finally, I heard Youngblood Hawke for the first time at the fun. concert in the park next to my house, and I'm glad I wrote down their name so I could watch for their first album, because Wake Up is a great start.  We Come Running is their most recognizable track, and it's very, very good alt-pop.  Stars and Dreams are great too.  Some of the tracks are approaching my maximum hipsterness level, but overall it's a nice indie pop sound.

No comments: