Thursday, October 02, 2014

Soundcast Ep. 75 - Top 10 2014 Summer Scores!

Soundcast Ep. 75 - Top 10 2014 Summer Scores!

Ep. 75 - Top 10 2014 Summer Scores!

Christopher, Marius, Richard and Edmund reconvene to countdown their top ten scores from the very ripe, 2014 Summer movie line up!  It's been a few months, but we're back with  almost two-hours of episodic vengeance!

Episode Highlights

00:00 - Summer Countdown Mix
01:00 - Intro and How We Spent Our Summer Vacation
09:31 - #10
27:35 - #9
37:10 - #8
45:08 - #7
64:49 - #6
73:10 - #5
76:07 - #4
80:00 - #3
93:19 - #2
97:14 - #1
99:31 - Scores that didn't make the list

Music Selections

00:04 - "The Pod Chase" (Guardians of the Galaxy) by Tyler Bates
09:55 - "Dochi Theme" (Kundo:  Age of the Rampant) by Jo Yeong-wook
12:56 - "You Understood Us" (Earth to Echo) by Joseph Trapanese
16:38 - "Guardians United" (Guardians of the Galaxy) by Tyler Bates
21:00 - "The Kylin Escape" (Guardians of the Galaxy) by Tyler Bates
23:14 - "TMNT March" (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) by Brian Tyler
30:38 - "Son of Zeus" (Hercules) by Fernando Valezquez
37:21 - "Training Dusty" (Planes 2: Fire and Rescue) by Mark Mancina
40:45 - "Godzilla!" (Godzilla) by Alexandre Desplat
45:14 - "There He Is" (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) by Hans Zimmer et al
52:03 - "Main Titles" (The Giver) by Marco Beltrami
56:49 - "Enough Monkeying Around" (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) by Michael Giacchino
58:41 - "Level Plaguing Field" (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) by Michael Giacchino
65:01 - "Hiten-Kyoto" (Rurouni Kenshin - Kyoto Inferno) by Naoki Sato
66:55 - "End Title Suite" (A Million Ways to Die in The West) by Joel McNeeley
69:17 - "Main Titles" (Belle) by Rachel Portman
73:16 - "Trajectory of a Miracle" (Magical Sisters Yoyo and Nene) by Go Shina
77:07 - "Dragon Racing" (How to Train Your Dragon 2) by John Powell
80:15 - "Hassan Learns French Cooking" (Hundred Foot Journey) by A. R. Rahman
82:52 - "Maleficent Suite" (Maleficent) by James Newton Howard
89:00 - "Main Titles" (X-Men: Days of Future Past) by John Ottman
93:34 - "Marnie" (When Marnie Was There) by Takatsugu Muramatsu
98:05 - "Opening Title" (Stand By Me Doraemon) by Naoki Sato
100:02 - "The Unspeakable Has Happened" (The Boxtrolls) by Dario Marianelli
103:12 - "Angel of Verdun" (Edge of Tomorrow) by Christophe Beck
105:34 - "Toothless Found" (How to Train Your Dragon 2) by John Powell

Support Tracksounds:

Most of the  soundtracks mentioned in this episode can be found at Amazon.  Your purchases through these links help us to keep on keepin' on!  Thank You!

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Best Soundtrack Cover Art for 2014

Follow Tracksounds's board 2014 Best Soundtrack Cover Art on Pinterest.

Yes.  We are on Pinterest! 

So what are we doing there?  Oh ... just keeping track of, what we consider, the best soundtrack cover art work for each year.  We'll be adding to it as the year goes, so if you're feeling "pinny," please do follow us there and give some of our pins some "like-age" on the covers you agree are among the best of the year.

Of course, it is possible that we might miss some great art out there...whether it is for a CD release or vinyl.  Heck.  It might even be for a digital-only release.  If we do miss something, don't hesitate to hit us up in our comments, tweet us, Facebook us... you know the drill.

This may even signal a return of the "Best Cover Art" category to Cue Awards or something.

Monday, August 11, 2014

In Context - Need for Speed by Nathan Furst

"Way" back in March of 2014, a rival to the Fast And Furious franchise made its debut.  NEED FOR SPEED, directed by Scott Waugh, was marketed to give us a slightly retro-street-race movie from what the Fast And Furious franchise has evolved into.   Boasting real cars, in-camera effects, and a host of drool-inducing automobiles, NEED FOR SPEED looked to bring the popular and historic game franchise to the big screen in a big way.  Brought on to score the film was previous collaborator, NATHAN FURST, who worked with Waugh on Act of Valor (2012).

Missing out on its theatrical release, I went the VOD (Video on demand) route and watched on my home theater.  I rented the HDX version of the film from Vudu.  Although, my setup is several years old now, I can honestly say that I have, on a number of occasions, had a superior audio/video experience watching a film on my own home theater than watching that same film in one of my local cinemas.  So I'm quite confident that my viewing of Need for Speed in this context delivered an adequate experience from which to base this review.

The visuals of this film are top-notch.  In fact, I was surprised at how crisp the video was.  I completely forgot I was watching a HD-streaming and not blu-ray.  Same goes for the sound.  During the race scenes, the sound of those engines were nothing short of thunderous.  The question is how Furst's score fit into all of that thunder.

In the first half of the film, the races tend to not have any music until about half-way through the segment.  Around that  point in the race, there is some sort of threatening event or issue that arises. It is there that Furst’s score is interjected into the mix to ramp up the tension.  As the film proceeds; however, we get additional and extended, race scenes and the score begins to enter into the mix much earlier.

That said, most of the time, the mix places the score underneath the killer sound effects of the amazing looking and sounding, Mustangs, Agera’s, Lamborghinis, McLarens, and Bugattis.  There were times that the score almost disappeared completely behind it all, which begs the question, "Why have score there at all?"  On the odd occasion, the score would ramp up in volume for a few seconds before getting buried beneath the dust of the sound effects again.

The NEED FOR SPEED score is really built around a main theme representing the protagonist, Toby Marshall.  It starts the film as a low-key, post-modern-rock piece.  It begins with a very spacious guitar over acoustic bass drum beat, placid electronics and strings, but develops, over the course of the film, to become a bold, heroic anthem, bolted out on brass and supported by full orchestra.  It’s really quite a compelling theme and not what one might expect for a film like this and it definitely helps to distinguish this potential franchise from the Fast and Furious.

One last bit of context here - there are several songs which are scattered throughout the film.  Each of these I I found absolutely out of place, distracting, and of pretty poor quality.  Furst’s score far out-classes them, but Interscope Records found them worth releasing on an EP.  NATHAN FURST's score also found a release from Varèse Sarabande on March 14, 2014 and remains widely available.

If you are looking for a slightly different experience from the Fast and Furious, then NEED FOR SPEED might be of interest to you.  If you love the look of real cars doing real racing and sound of muscle and exotic cars, then this film is definitely for you.  Hearing Furst's score in context, might bring a modicum of extra-appreciation to the score, but to really hear what the composer has done for this film, I recommend listening to the original score, instead.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Snowpiercer (Soundtrack) by Marco Beltrami - Review + Audio

Snowpiercer (Soundtrack) by Marco Beltrami - Review + Audio

Frozen Motion
by Richard Buxton

Based on the French graphic novel LE TRANSPERCENEIGE, SNOWPIERCER marks BONG JOON-HO’S English-language debut, and the last of the South Korean film industry’s big three directors (Bong Joon-ho, Kim Jee-woon, Park Chan-wook) to venture west in recent years. Though its release was subject to substantial delays outside Asia, Snowpiercer is nothing less than a riveting, refreshing, and downright entertaining science-fiction action film from an immensely talented director.

SNOWPIERCER, set in a grim dystopian future aboard a self-sustaining train without a terminus, charters the uprising of the oppressed within the remnants of humanity’s fragile existence. This ambitious, claustrophobic sci-fi is director Bong’s first foray into action, and has been met with almost universal praise. While his equally talented South Korean colleages Kim Jee-woon, and Park Chan-wook stumbled somewhat with their English-language debuts, SNOWPIERCER’S critical success has made great waves for the South Korean film industry on an international scale.

Aside from Japanese composer TARO IWASHIRO’S score for MEMORIES OF MURDER, music in Bong’s films hasn’t particularly stood out, either in-context or standing alone, nor has the director formed any sort of long-lasting relationship with a composer. As a result, MARCO BELTRAMI boarded the project. Had BELTRAMI produced a by-the-numbers action score, it would have been a missed opportunity to provide something unique for a truly unique film. However, Beltrami has most definitely succeeded in his work for SNOWPIERCER, though in a way that is not entirely satisfying.

The dark reality of SNOWPIERCER’S world is immediately evident in the score’s bleak opening - a fog of desolation that never clears and ultimately represents the divide between the score’s success and failure. As a supporting character in the film, BELTRAMI’S score blends in perfectly, but as a solo act it doesn’t quite have the muscle to boast consistent thrills. Subsequently, those who have not seen the film will have greater difficulty in finding moments worth revisiting.


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Soundtrack) by John Powell

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Soundtrack) by John Powell

How to Score a Sequel
by Edmund Meinerts

JOHN POWELL took the film music world by storm when his utterly fantastic score for DreamWorks’ best film, the atypically mature and ambitious HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, hit shelves in early 2010. It netted an unlikely but thoroughly deserved Academy Award nomination (why it didn’t win – especially considering what did that year – is beyond me) and set the bar into the stratosphere for the film music of the 2010s, a bar that hasn’t been reached by any score since. The score represented the high point of a period of very strong production for POWELL, with both 2010 and 2011 excellent years for him. Since then, however, he has only produced a handful of passable, but comparatively lackluster animated scores, followed by the further bad news that he would be taking a sabbatical from film music. One can only hope that he won’t end up like DON DAVIS did after his break: an enormous talent sadly neglected by Hollywood.

Fortunately, the prospect of returning to the same fruitful pastures that produced his career-best score seems to have nudged POWELL into making exceptions for this series; not only has he returned to score the sequel, but interviews seem to indicate that he’ll be along for the ride on a third and maybe even fourth film in the series. For film score fans, there can be no better news, because enough beating about the bush – HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 is every bit the triumph that its predecessor was. It does what every good sequel score ought to do and which so few actually do: it takes the themes and musical foundation from the first score, builds on it rather than taking the easy route of rehash, and adds several new themes to the mix. The result is undoubtedly the richest score of POWELL’s career so far – thematically-speaking, at least.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Music Has Always Sounded Bad!

MUSIC HAS ALWAYS SOUNDED BAD!  A Response to "The Distortion of Sound"
by Christopher Coleman

Many of you reading this would likely agree that there are a few problems within the music world today.  Whether you ask the consumer, the critic, or the creator, they'll all give you a list of things that could be improved ... and some that must be improved for the sake of the long-term well-being of the industry.  The 2014 documentary, THE DISTORTION OF SOUND,  directed by Jacob Rosenberg, written by Michael Abell and Kevin Gentile and featuring interviews by artists like:  QUINCY JONES, HANS ZIMMER, and A.R. RAHMAN, deals with the declining quality of sound in the reording industry.   Having a high interest in this topic and how the masses consume music today, I was equally keen to see what these artists and documentarians had to say.

Sadly, I didn't come out with much new information, hence my own views effected much.  If you have been paying attention to the trend in the music economy over the last ten years, you likely won't find any major revelations in this documentary either.  The main point of the DISTORTION OF SOUND was to say to the masses, "Hey.  Most of that music you are streaming or downloading and listening to via your phone, tablet and laptops is crap.  And we put a lot of hard work into that music, which you aren't hearing at all."  There was no clear call to action but, most thankfully, there was no pitch to purchase some new piece of HD-audio hardware or service.

Aside from ultimately wondering what the point of this documentary was, I also felt that, while I may agree with the conclusion that the masses may be missing out on the finer nuances of their music, as original recorded, their arguments were a little weak.  Saying that compressed audio through tiny earbuds or cheap, on-board computer speakers, sounds bad compared to the original recordings is true enough, but to suggest that this is something new and that some undeclared action must be taken is disingenuous at best.  The fact is that the masses have been listening to comparatively poor sounding music for decades.  It's simply a case of whether the music sounds "good enough." Consumers weigh this against other factors in their listening experience like:  portability, accessibility, and cost.  The fact is the masses are saying with their wallets that compressed music is, at most times. good enough.

While the documentarians make their point quite clearly (a little too extremely perhaps) with the uncompressed versus compressed sound of the same piece of music and while they do take us down musical-memory-lane from the 1960s-vinyl to the 8-track, cassette, and CD, they never deal with the fact that a lot of work has always been put into recorded music that many never heard.  From the media available to the means of transmission to the limitations of technology, recorded-music that has sounded comparatively bad has always been made readily available and the masses listened by the millions.

Let's see.  Remember AM radio?  Right.  It's still there, but mostly filled with talk radio.  Why?  Because music sounds like crap on AM radio.  But some of you reading this right now will recall listening to hours and hours of your favorite music via a tiny, one-speaker, hand-held, AM radio and it was fine.  Don't you know you were missing a lot of the amazing detail, atmosphere and dynamics of every song you listened to that way?  Back in the 70s, it was the best we had.  As long as our 9-volt batteries held out and we could sing along with our favorite songs being squeeked and squelched out of our radio, we were fine with it.

Magnetic media.  Let's not even deal with 8-tracks and talk about the best selling medium of the 80s, cassette tapes.  Do you recall how we'd record and re-record the same tapes over and over?  You want to talk "distortion in sound?"  By the end of the lifespan of some of my old AMPEX, MAXELL, MEMOREX, or TDK tapes, the quality of sound was worse than a severely warped and scratched vinyl-record.  Remember that cassette-album you loved so much?  Even if you bought it from the label, brand new, with each successive listen the quality of that experience was diminishing.  Did you keep the temperature constant to ensure the long-life of that tape or did you leave it locked up in your car in the blazing heat of summer from time to time?  Ever get that tape snagged in your player only to fish it out with a great new set of creases added to the tape?  That's just how it was, but many of us put up with it, because that is all we had for portable music.

And let's not slam these headphones and earphones of today too hard. (Ok.  We can slam them a little for being so overpriced).  Let's not kid ourselves that the headphones that accompanied our favorite Walkman-clone, were some technological, sonic breakthrough in fidelity.  They were cheap, light, and were a perfect match for the convenience those personal cassette players afforded us.  And with those cassette players, remember how we were to clean the heads and if you were really hardcore, you'd even de-magnetize them on occasion?  What percentage of the masses bothered to do this to keep their music sounding as good as possible?  Few  bothered ... but we kept on listening to those re-re-re-recorded cassettes over and over and over - losing fidelity with every turn of the sprockets.  We listened on, because it was all we had.

I bet I'm not the only one who used to sit in his room or out in the yard with friends and tape record music that was played on the radio!  At least it was FM radio, so it was sounding great compared to that monophonic-nightmare of the AM variety.  Think about it.  Music that might have been recorded and mixed in the finest studios by master musicians, was being pumped over the airwaves rife with countless sources of interference and noise.  We then took our little, dirty-headed, boom boxes and inserted that cassette tape we've been using and reusing for the last two years.  Finally, after holding the pause button for minutes at a time, while those dreaded radio commercials played, putting damaging stresses on our beloved, dynamic, normal bias cassette tape, we finally release the button and our personal recording session of our favorite song begins.  Just how pure, detailed, and dynamic must have that song have sounded later as we listened, rewound, and listened again.  In truth, it sounded terrible, but we put up with it, because it was all we had.

At long last the 1990s arrived and the music industry would be changed forever by the digital age. The compact disc entered the scene and our minds were collectively blown as digitally recorded and mastered music was a dream come true.  Theoretically, our 1500th listen was a clean and clear as our first.  We could take these thin, little discs of joy anywhere.  We'd skip songs and repeat others.  It was so convenient ... and they just happened to, on the whole, sound infinitely better than our cassettes we recorded from our record collections.  In some ways, it was the pinnacle of the music industry.

Artists weren't complaining that consumers couldn't hear all of their artistry back then.  Consumers loved the convenience and bonus quality.  However, there was one thing that consumers weren't so fond of - the price.

Paying $20+ for a single CD was commonplace, so, for some of us, purchases were much rarer and much more thought-out.  The music business reached its zenith, but the stage was set for the download and streaming revolution of which we are now all a part.

Those artists that take the stand represented in DISTORTION OF SOUND don't talk about our tradition of "bad sounding music."  Instead they focus on the most current iteration.  The fact is poor quality listening experiences have been around since the dawn of recorded music and from the artists' point of view, it's likely to be with us forever. While it was rather intriguing to see the thoughts on compressed music expressed by artists of varying generation and genre, without a strong call to action at the end, the whole point of this video is lost.  Perhaps it will somehow educate a few and move them to buy compact discs or vinyl, but enough to make an actual difference?

The majority of consumers have already spoken.  Digital downloads and streaming services provide music quality that is "good enough" for them. The convenience simply outweighs the losses in quality, that many say they can't even perceive.

Unless there is some breakthrough in whatever playback technologies the consumers have ready-access it to (something that will expose the deficiencies in the fidelity of their current musical choices), gad sounding music has been with us since the dawn of recorded music and will probably be with us for years to come.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Soundcast Interview: Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy)

Soundcast Interview:  Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy)

Interview:  Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy)

Composer Tyler Bates talks about the reaction he has been receiving for his latest project, about working on the score early enough for scenes to actually be filmed to, his special connection to Star Lord aka Peter Quill, and the piece of music that brought tears to his eyes while composing it.  Christopher Coleman also asks him about any potential involvement in the recently announced sequel and animated series to debut on Disney XD.

Episode Highlights

00:00 - Introduction
00:55 - Reaction to the film and music
07:20 - Fun in the film
09:30 - Composing music to be filmed to
16:19 - Scoring around the songs
19:25 - Groot music
24:29 - The sequel and the Animated series
27:04 - Thanos and Ronan
29:50 - The music of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
32:27 - Wrap up

Music Selections

00:10 - "The Final Battle Begins" (Guardians of the Galaxy) by Tyler Bates
15:57 - "Everyone's an Idiot" (Guardians of the Galaxy) by Tyler Bates
20:29 - "Groot Cocoon" (Guardians of the Galaxy) by Tyler Bates
28:06 - "Ronan's Theme" (Guardians of the Galaxy) by Tyler Bates
31:50 - "The Kylin Escape" (Guardians of the Galaxy) by Tyler Bates


Follow Tyler Bates on Twitter - @tyler_bates

Support Tracksounds:

Buy the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Deluxe Soundtrack at Amazon.

Most of the  soundtracks mentioned in this episode can be found at Amazon.  Your purchases through these links help us to keep on keepin' on!  Thank You!

Buy Soundtracks at

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