Indie rock for indie movies
The bridge between independent film and indie rock has been getting easier and easier to cross with the rise of a new generation of directors weaned on music videos and the multimedia underground. Not that there haven’t always been maverick directors determined to draw on obscure music — it’s just that with music festivals like South by Southwest and CMJ expanding to include film, the ties have never been stronger. Hell, Henry Rollins, once the raging frontman of the feared Black Flag, now has his own Independent Film Channel talk show. So the IFC has hooked up with eMusic to present “eMusic Dozens: The IFC Soundtrack,” a rotating list with a broad range of downloads as well as a short film about each band/artist. Here’s a sample from the first batch at www.emusic.com/ifc.html.
The Hold Steady, “Stuck Between Stations”
With its big, bold guitars and a desperation that brings to mind a street-level answer to Springsteen, piano refrains and all (à la Philly’s Marah), “Stuck Between Stations” is one of those wordy epics that follows the warm rush of falling in love while pondering one’s own mortality. Yet even after Craig Finn is done littering this coulda-been-single from the 2006 release Boys and Girls in America with tossed-off, deep-sounding proclamations, it’s the simple lines — like “She was a damn good dancer but she wasn’t all that great of a girlfriend” — that stick with you.
The Walkmen, “Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone”
The title track from this Brooklyn band’s 2002 Star Time International release isn’t the most forceful introduction to these artsy post-punk rockers. The drums pound away in the background as out-of-tune softly sung falsettos search for harmony over ambient keyboard tones. But it does all lift the tune up to an emotional peak as guitars coalesce and the lyric “I made the best of it” floats to the surface
RJD2, “Smoke and Mirrors”
Columbus-by-way-of-Oregon DJ RJD2 has garnered favorable comparisons to everyone from DJ Shadow to the Moby of the soul-sampling Play ever since Definitive Jux released the disc with this tune on it, Deadringer, in 2002. The male vocal here is indeed a dead ringer for Hendrix, and the vibe is pure retro-futurist ’60s even without any real guitar and the occasional busy breakbeat. A pure triumph of mood over matter, and it’s got a beat you can dance to.
Woody Guthrie, “Two Good Men (Sacco and Vanzetti)”
“Two good men a long time gone/Sacco and Vanzetti are gone/And left me here to sing this song.” Yep, that’s what the guy who wrote “This land is our land . . . ” had to say about one of the more controversial episodes in American history. And though he includes all kinds of other details — the judge’s name, “the streets of Braintree” — it’s Guthrie’s talent for bringing a case as loaded with broad socio-political issues as the Sacco and Vanzetti trial down to such a simple level that made him the great poet that he was.
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