Short Takes on 1 Soundtrack, 2 EPs, and 1 Album

The Chemical Brothers - Hanna soundtrack

The Chemical Brothers – Hanna soundtrack

Relativity Music Group

http://www.thechemicalbrothers.com/#p=home

The 20 songs of this film soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers may seem like plenty, but some numbers are constructed as “joining segments” that exist between the fully-developed songs and, as such, they barely register because of their brevity and ephemeral structure.

The vibe of the soundtrack alternates between innocent whimsy (bright, cheerful “whistle-while-you-work” electronics and glockenspiel) and a moodier, more ominous tone (marching-forward beat and robotic electronics). This mix of childhood innocence and knowing danger is in service to the themes of the film Hanna and, on that account, the soundtrack is successful; it’s alright for a short car ride, but not refined and catchy enough to go the distance.

 

Jane Hunt - Violin Venus EP

Jane Hunt – Violin Venus EP

Self-released

http://www.violinvenus.com/

This EP was quite a pleasant surprise, as I had no preconceived notions going into it and no knowledge of Jane Hunt. I put the CD in my Discman (Yes, I’m old school like that – LOL) and was swept up and away by the opening track “Vasene”, which literally made me misty-eyed from its exquisite violin crescendos. An ethereal female singer vocalizes in a foreign language (Is it Jane Hunt?), reminding me of Liz Fraser of Cocteau Twins. The tantalizing violins mix with modern electronics and a kicky beat, drawing the listener into a vivid dream world.

The second number, “Melia Dream”, moves into a movie soundtrack realm with poignant, quivering violin pulls, a full, sonorous orchestral sound, and occasional starry sprinkle of chime. “Flying High” follows, and it’s more contemplative, with Jo Gabriel-like quick runs of piano and violins that recall the A Single Man soundtrack.

The last song, “Sahara”, starts off somberly with slower, melancholic pulls of lower-register violin, then swiftly adds a hand drum beat, flitting jags of electric guitar, and spirals of violin by its end. Jane was trained as a classical violinist, but on this EP she combines various music genres with ease, creating enticing amalgams that soar with her violin expertise.

 

Bart & Friends - Make You Blush EP

Bart & Friends – Make You Blush EP

The Lost And Lonesome Record Co.

http://www.lostandlonesome.com.au/band_info.php?id=29&desc=bart-and-friends

The 8 brief songs (most clock in at under 2 minutes) that make up this EP display a low-key charm with the gentle instrumentation of acoustic guitar strum or reverb guitar, bass, and steady drum beat (provided by Mark Monnone, Louis Richter, and Stanley Paulzen of The Lucksmiths) forming a pleasantly soft spine. The EP gets stronger as it goes along, but sounds a bit unfinished due to the lo-fi production and demo-like feel of the songs. On half of the tunes Bart Cummings (The Cat’s Miaow, Hydroplane, The Shaprios) sing-talks in an unassuming, impassive style, like on the way-to-short “Make You Blush”, which is tossed off casually in favor of the longer “Memories Fade” and its brush of electric guitar and the lyrics “Memories fade in the light / Tears are hidden by your smile.”

Music icon Pam Berry (Black Tambourine, Chickfactor zine, Glo-Worm, The Shapiros) joins the production on a cool cover of “Blue Moon”, singing in her distinctive, warmly impassive style against watery guitar lines, a pliant beat, and deeper, wavering guitar riff.  A more emotive Pam also appears on “Weave Your Name” which incorporates an emphatic beat, up-tempo guitar strum, and Pam singing plaintively “Take my hand / and always keep me beside you.”

 

Haroula Rose - These Open Roads

Haroula Rose – These Open Roads

 Self-released

http://haroularosemusic.blogspot.com/

A long list of guest musicians contribute slide guitar, piano, cello, accordion, mandolin, and other instruments to Haroula Rose’s album, with Orenda Fink on additional vocals, and the result is a comforting, but not compelling listen. Haroula’s sleepy alt-folk songs with their continuous, gently strummed guitar patterns and light, breathy, lyrics-centered vocals would perfectly suit the coffeehouse milieu. Haroula keeps any strong emotion in check, singing with a clear, delicate intonation and a touch of melancholy.

When it all gets to be too aurally lightweight, the introspective, bittersweet lyrics help to anchor the songs. On opener “Brand New Start” Haroula deftly balances displays of optimism (“These roads are open wide / There’s room for everyone to move side by side.”) with reality (“…it’s a shame…we learn to walk single file.”). Her girlish, hushed vocal lines are supported by extra, hazy vocal phrases and ubiquitous guitar strum that belie the stark nature of the lyrical content on songs like “Close My Eyes to See” where Haroula sighs “The world goes by / but I…stay inside.” and the cutting “Another Breakup Ballad” (“And I refuse to see the truth / when all my friends would say / to walk away / Memories fade / just like the day…”)