music to sink your teeth into

October 18, 2009

It’s fairly easy to see that there will be two types of reactions to the New Moon soundtrack. One one hand you have the ‘mainstream’ media that will probably rate it highly, calling it something along the lines of ‘a great collection songs from of up-and-coming artists’. Then there’ll be the more indie crowd, who will undoubtedly slam it for encouraging screaming teenage girls to listen to the likes of Thom Yorke, Grizzly Bear and Muse, thereby destroying any credibility these artists ever had in the process. But while it is very, very tempting to just scream ‘sellout!’, after a proper listen the soundtrack actually is…good. Shock horror!

Music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas, who has put her hand in the past to (quality) soundtracks for (questionable) shows like The OC and Gossip Girl, has certainly pulled out all the stops on this one. All of the tracks are previously unreleased or written specifically for the soundtrack, and there’s some big names that traverse both the indie and mainstream music worlds. Kicking off with the first single, ‘Meet me on the Equinox’ by indie darlings Death Cab for Cutie, it’s quickly apparent the kind of tunes that will be background to the sulking teenagers, tortured vamps and uber-buff werewolves in the film.

Arguably one of the biggest names on the CD is Thom Yorke, who contributes a darkly electronic number entitled ‘Hearing Damage’. Even with the absence of the rest of the band, the Radiohead frontman delivers. But really, is that any surprise?

The 16-track strong album continues with the likes of The Killers, Lykke Li and a ethereal collaboration between Bon Iver and St. Vincent. Muse, who author Stephanie Meyer has publicly expressed her love for, return with a special remix of ‘I Belong to You’. Lifted from their latest LP The Resistance, the remix feels slightly out of place with the rest of the album, featuring more glam and ditching the french lyrics of the original (because of course a bit of culture won’t sit in a film like this, will it?). All is forgiven though when critical darlings Grizzly Bear add their wonderful brand of folky rock with the track ‘Slow Life’, before Eskimo Joe round out the Australian edition. Not sure where that’ll go in the film, but it’s a decent bonus track nonetheless.

The big argument that will reside over this though won’t be the calibre of the music itself, but rather what the inclusion of these bands represents. Twilight is undoubtedly one of the biggest pop-culture phenomenons we’ve seen this decade. It just so happens that the author of the books likes alternative music, and the all of a sudden these relatively obscure bands are thrust into the spotlight. As the notion of what is ‘indie’ and what is ‘commercial’ is increasingly being brought into question, the New Moon soundtrack just blurs the boundaries further. But hey, if it means being able to enjoy an excellent collection of really good music that otherwise would not be available, then maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

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One Response to “music to sink your teeth into”

  1. Nemo said

    Funny: every CD I owned by any and all of these “relatively obscure” bands suddenly found itself thrust into the trash can (that includes every single Radiohead disc, too) once I found out they’d written a song for this sorry crap franchise. There’s being licensed (i.e., allowing a song to appear on a soundtrack), and there’s selling out, and these clowns crossed the line. For what purpose? Exposure? Sorry, kids: the crowd to whom you’re exposing yourselves by hitching yourself to Ms. Meyer’s garbage truck isn’t the crowd that will pay actual cash money for your music.

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