June 18, 2009

Carry Away the Summer

Here at Carry You Away, we like mixes. Now that I have a car with a CD player, I really like putting together a collection of songs to fit a particular driving style or mood that I find myself in, and go from there. Recently, I got to thinking about movie soundtracks and how a lot of the hipster, indie films often have this sort of attitude - a mix-tape is generally just as good when it comes to a film.

I guess that works, although I have to say that the only really good film soundtrack collection that I've come across recently seems to have been a model for a lot of the other films - Garden State. For me, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Juno (and an upcoming one called Adam) can't hold a candle to this album, which still holds up nicely for me. I'm not entirely sure why the other two have really not held up beyond a single listen for me - I think that the artists are too new, the collection is just too pretentious to really gain any sort of mainstream following that the GS soundtrack has. Garden State was a fun film, and I suspect that there will be those who will label it as a defining film of our generation, along with the sountrack.

With artists like Simon and Garfunkle to the Shins, I think what really made the soundtrack work well is its variety of songs that are on it. There are several genres represented, from indie to acoustic to oldie, with a couple of artists that were just well known enough to a couple that were just obscure enough, but with enough material out there (in most cases) to keep people interested. I'd argue that the movie was a big success for people like The Shins, Cary Brothers, Zero 7, Iron & Wine and helped to get Nick Drake back on the radar. The album doesn't come off as pretentious, but honest, and it worked extremely well with the movie. Not having seen Juno or Infinite Playlist, I'm not sure how well those tracks meshed with the film, but it's not something that I'm losing sleep over.

While thinking about this, I think I found the formula that really made Garden State shine, and to put it to the test, I've put together a summer-ish sort of mix based on the criteria:

European/UK Band, Alt-Rock, Male
Indie Band, fairly obscure, complex lyrics
Electronica, easy listening, female vocals
Indie Band, same as #2
Acoutic Folk, Male, Soft
Alt-Folk/Rock, Male
Alf-Folk/Rock, Male
Acoustic Folk
Indian Electronica, no vocals
Oldie, Folkish, Male, duet
Folk-Cover of Techno/Electronica song, Male
Electronica/Female Vocals, Soft
Female Acoustic, Folk/Rock
Bonus: Alt-Rock (Used for Commercial)

Let's compare this to Garden State's Soundtrack:

Don't Panic - Coldplay
Caring is Creepy - The Shins
In the Waiting Line - Zero 7
New Slang - The Shins
I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You - Colin Hay
Blue Eyes - Cary Brothers
Fair - Remy Zero
One Of These Things First - Nick Drake
Lebanese Blonde - Thievery Corporation
The Only Living Boy in New York - Simon & Garfunkel
Let Go - Frou Frou
Winding Road - Bonnie Sumerville
Writing to Reach You - Travis (Commercial/Trailer)

And now, applying the same sort of formula , and this is what I've come up with, Carry You Away's Summer mix. How does it line up?

Bad Skin Day - Bell X1
Hayling - FC/Kahuna
Re: Stacks - Bon Iver
At Your Door - Alexi Murdoch
The Khaleegi Stomp - Transglobal Underground
A Summer Song - Chad & Jeremy
Heartbeats (The Knife) - José González
Dreaming - Sara Wheeler
5:19 - Matt Wertz