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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Various Artists
The Science of Sleep

Rating: 7/10 ?

October 26, 2006
Music that is associated with French director Michel Gondry usually has a good chance to be as fantastically surreal as the films and videos that he makes. The videos that Gondry has made for artists such as Daft Punk, the White Stripes, the Foo Fighters and others have all been strange visual adaptations of unique tunes, e.g. (respectively) "Around the World," "Fell In Love With a Girl," "Everlong."

This is a look in the other direction - an assessment of the music that is made to accompany the film of Gondry. In this case the focal point is musician/score creator Jean-Michel Bernard, who puts together a collection of orchestrated dream-sequence song vignettes, as well as some French-influenced bossanova lounge snippets.

The entirety of the soundtrack is not like usual scores or soundtracks where there are contained all popular songs or all orchestrated background music. This record is more of a feature of the tunes that exist in the film but with some dialogue still intact. There are also "bonus" elements such as a couple tracks from rock band The Willowz, which serves as an alarm-clock like disruption to the flow of dreamy, cloud-moving musicale; tracks featuring Dutch singer Dick Annegarn and Kimiko Ono; and Kool and the Gang's "Steppin' Out." So strange is the mixing that it perfectly fits the anything-is-possible style that Gondry's works often partake in.

Bernard's resume is bulletpointed with work on the score of Gondry's first feature film Human Nature, compositions written for Gondry's DVD collection The Work of Michel Gondry, scores for television and other films, as well collaborations with legends such as Ennio Morricone, Lalo Schifrin, and Ray Charles. On the soundtrack for The Science of Sleep he uses one part the Paris Symphonic Orchestra and another part pop-rock house band that features Gondry on the drum kit.

Behind the wheel of Paris Symphonic Orchestra, Bernard creates string/wind cinema sounds. Just as in old Merrie Melodies cartoons or movies with real scores, the orchestra here creates a responsive backdrop to the action going on in the movie. The soundtrack shows that this arrangement was often used during the parts of the movie that were based in the main character's dreams. But there are also those musical indicators - the lone oboe sound followed by plucked strings to emanate the feeling of "sneaking around" or as in the dream parts, a harpsichord to create a euphoric feeling.

The first song of the record "Generique Stephane" plays on the small, quasi rock band that Bernard heads. Sometimes this collective plays gentle bossanova-inspired tunes, sometimes they enlist amateur-level rock 'n' roll tunes. But they always manage to offer an element of energy and diversion from the other side. Much similar to style that Gondry directs in, they also offer a character of independent, non-mainstream self-composition into this work.

An overall effect is achieved with Jean-Michel Bernard creating this soundtrack. It draws together film and music, and also further creates a feeling of storytelling and surrealism. Although I wouldn't consider this record a popular play at parties, it is one that becomes more personally tied with each listen. That's the important part.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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