Monday, December 22, 2008


The IRT kicks off its year-end listing festivities with our five favorite soundtracks of this most crucial election year. 2008 may have been void of anything as outwardly amazing as '07, which saw such beautiful chemistry of sonics and celluloid as the masterful Dylan hawking of the I'm Not There soundtrack and that amazing imaginary Jungle Julia playlist that comprised the OST for Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. But that is not to say there wasn't some tasty collections that helped keep the dying art of the motion picture soundtrack still relevant for at least one more year before the world-eating Golobulous that is iTunes kills that off right after its done feasting on the tattered bones of our nation's independent record store circuit. Here is the cream of this year's crop, at least in our humble opine.

1. THE WACKNESS Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Jive)

Next to The Dark Knight and Ironman, this classic coming-of-age tale about a teenage drug dealer, the psychologist he trades weed for couch time with and his daughter who said dealer falls in love with was one of the finest cinematic moments of the Summer of '08. And what made it even better was that it was set against the backdrop of New York City during the summer of 1994, which, as many of us thirtysomethings know, was the penultimate year for hip-hop, as this amazing flashback of a soundtrack testifies. Hearing these songs all together again, from Biggie and Method Man's "The What" to Craig Mack's "Flava In Ya Ear" to Nas' "The World Is Yours" to Raekwon's "Heaven and Hell" to even R. Kelly's "Bump N' Grind", brought me back to the days when me and my crew were drinking 40s and smoking El's in the undeveloped cul-de-sacs of our little hometown. Good times, good times. However, as good as the official Wackness soundtrack may be, it hardly holds a candle to the absolutely bananas promotional mixtape handed out at special screenings of the film and was made available as a free download, which, of course, you can cop right here:

Copy and paste link to download SIDE 1 of The Wackness Movie Mix:

Copy and paste link to dowload SIDE 2 of The Wackness Movie Mix:

1. The Notorious B.I.G. “Party And Bullshit”
2. Boogie Down Productions “Duck Down”
3. Brand Nubian “Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down”
4. GZA & Method Man “Shadowboxin’”
5. Gangstarr “Take It Personal”
6. Diamond D “Fuck What U Heard”
7. Intro “Love Thang”
8. Mobb Deep “Give Up The Goods”
9. Redman “Can’t Wait”
10. Faith Evans “You Used Love Me (Remix)
11. UMCs “One To Grow On”
12. Eric B. & Rakim “Know The Ledge”
13. Ultramagnetic MCs “Raise It Up”
14. Keith Murray “The Most Beautifulest Thing In This World”
15. Mary J. Blige & Smif-N-Wessun “I Love You (Remix)”
16. Group Home “Suspended In Time (Remix)”

1. Onyx “Throw Your Gunz In The Air”
2. Black Moon “I Gotcha Open (Remix)”
3. Ol Dirty Bastard “Brooklyn Zoo (Remix)”
4. EPMD “Headbanger”
5. Das EFX “They Want EFX (Remix”
6. Nas “Represent”
7. Total & Keith Murray “Can’t You See (Remix)”
8. Main Source “Fakin’ The Funk”
9. Fu Schnickens “La Schmoove”
10. Nice & Smooth “Old To The New”
11. Wu-Tang Clan “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nothin’ To F’ Wit”
12. Chef Raekwon “Glaciers Of Ice”
13. A Tribe Called Quest “Electric Relaxation”
14. Method Man “Bring The Pain (Remix)”
15. Pete Rock & CL Smooth “Good Life”
16. Jeru The Damaja “D. Original”
17. Lords Of The Underground “Chief Rocka (Remix)”
18. Jodecei & Raekwon and Ghostface Killah “Freekin’ U (Remix)”
19. Run DMC, Pete Rock & CL Smooth “Down With The King”

And best of all, this soundtrack, for many of us who have grown up in or around New York City, is a fond reminder of the days that used to be, back when gentrification was just another hard-ass vocabulary word we had to memorize for English class.

2. HALLAM FOE Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Domino)
Officially released in the US this year under the title Mister Foe, this charming Scottish indie about the young title character (Jamie Bell from the excellent Billy Elliott) and how he copes with the sudden death of his beloved mother is set to the sounds of the Domino Records catalog. Usually when a record label pads a soundtrack with their label roster, it usually puts your fast forward button on some major overtime. However, this is Domino we're talking about here, a label brimming with so many brilliant artists, including Juana Molina, Scotland's own new wave heroes Orange Juice, Psapp, Sons and Daughters, the vastly underrated Woodbine, James Yorkston and Hood among them, all of whom are present and accounted for on this set. Hell, even Franz Ferdinand, regardless of where you stand with them, turn out a decent low-key gem of a tune written exclusively for this soundtrack. Domino is one of the finest labels in modern music, and this Hallam Foe soundtrack gives you sixteen reasons why you need to take that as pure truth.

3. JON BRION Synecdoche, NY Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Lakeshore)
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut about a haggard theater director from Schenectady, New York (get it?), who aspires to re-imagine his life from inside of a warehouse in Manhattan might not have wowed the critics as his screenwriting work on such films as Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind had (though Roger Ebert was totally 'bout it 'bout it in his review in the Chicago Sun-Times). But whether or not you can follow this thoughtful, challenging film, anyone who is a fan of Jon Brion's film scores can appreciate the truth that these lovely, Philip Glass-like compositions he has produced for Synecdoche belong right up there with the music of I Heart Huckabees and his mix of the last Fiona Apple record that rank up there as some of his best work to date.

4. SHAWN LEE Under The Sun: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Ubiquity)
The ever-prolific Lee, standard bearer in classic Ubiquity funk, helms this massive, two-disc soundtrack to Cyrus Sutton's outstanding documentary on Aussie surfers, recruiting such under-the-radar Australian groups Band Of Frequencies, Low Pressure Sound System and Afro Dizzi Act. Together, this disparate cross-section of talents combine a heady, stony brew of surf, psychedelia, Afro-beat and soul music as tidal as the ocean waves it pays homage to.

5. CADILLAC RECORDS Original Motion Picture Soundtrack(Columbia)

The inclusion of such contemporary filler as Solange, Mary Mary and Nas was a little unnecessary on the single disc version of this fascinating biopic chroncling the evolution of influential blues imprint Chess Records (though the Raphael Saadiq track fits right in with the times), especially when they had such great material from the film's stars--Beyonce, Mos Def and Jeffery Wright, who so brilliantly portrayed Etta James, Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters respectively--to spare. Nevertheless, the chance to hear young "B" absolutely kill Etta's wedding song standard "At Last", Mos Def tear through Berry's "Nadine" and the surprisingly fine-voiced Wright take Muddy's "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" to task is worth cherry picking this soundtrack on iTunes. Why they didn't get the gruff-voiced Mississippi MC David Banner to play Howlin' Wolf, on the other hand, is beyond me. He would have killed "I'm Sittin' On Top Of The World", right?

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