Our teen reviewers say check out the Garden State Soundtrack, Pantera and Sigur Rós.
Various artists: Garden State [Soundtrack]
By Danna Friedberg, 17, Hamilton HS
Nick Drake, The Shins, Frou Frou, Zero 7, Colin Hay, Thievery Corporation. While these artists aren’t big-name pop stars and rockers, they are all artists featured on the Grammy-winning soundtrack from the hit, sleeper flick Garden State.
Rarely is there a soundtrack that strongly defines a generation and decade like this one does. In an era of young, moody and tortured souls (as it is so hip to be nowadays) this CD provides the perfect background music for the sensitive artistic person in all of us. Therefore we must all cherish this soundtrack as a gift from the music gods. Whether you’re a soul-searching journal writer or an angsty teen, the Garden State soundtrack sets the mood for anyone who admits to being at least 1 percent depressed. If you’re looking for upbeat tunes you can dance to, this soundtrack is not for you. More of a mellow sound that moves slower than a Nicholas Sparks novel, this soundtrack resembles a mix tape from your artsy college boyfriend/girlfriend. With songs handpicked by the movie’s writer, director and star, Zach Braff, this CD is more jam-packed with upcoming indie artists than an open mic night at a coffee house.
"You have to hear this one song, it’ll change your life," utters Natalie Portman’s character while referring to the The Shins’ song "New Slang." I wouldn’t go as far to consider this soundtrack life-changing, but it’s pretty close.
Sigur Rós: ( )
By Sarah Butler, 16, La Cañada HS
Sigur Rós’s third international release, ( ), is both lyric-less and title-less, but not at all talent-less. All eight tracks are sung in the gibberish of Vonlenska (or Hopelandic in English). The Icelandic quartet crosses genre boundaries while experimenting with classical instruments and a cello bow to play guitar, creating music that’s a mixture of gentle strumming and soft ambient background noises.
"Njósnavélin" ("The Nothing Song"), the fourth track, shines through as the most melodic, happy and conventionally structured song. It starts with stark sounds from bass drums and the simple strumming of a guitar, then subtly shifts into a higher key that changes the tone of the song. In comes the soft falsetto of singer Jónsi Birgisson, mumbling his mythical language for seven minutes. Though this may sound boring and redundant, one can only imagine what Birgisson is singing about, and it ends up adding to the magic and mystery of the song. The last track is an epic all in its own—13 minutes dominated by drums and keyboard—with Birgisson’s desperate vocals breaking through to a climax and the record coming full circle and leaving the listener satisfied.
The band uses several ways to communicate emotion, starting with the sound and tone of the human voice instead of coherent words. Voice is found in almost every genre of music, from classical to black metal, and Sigur Rós utilizes the beauty of the voice box in a way that transcends the norm. Sigur Rós has completed an album that it not only a story of human emotion, but also a masterpiece of musical experimentation.
Pantera: Vulgar Display of Power
By Walker Andreen, 14, The Linden Center
Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power is a raw, hard-hitting album. It is also my favorite album. Pantera’s popularity kept the heavy-metal genre alive during the 90s while grunge and nu-metal were becoming popular.
I had just bought Vulgar Display of Power and was expecting a decent heavy-metal album. Then the first song, "Mouth for War," exploded into my head. Nothing I had listened to previously had sounded so energetic or huge. The guitars and drums pounded along with Philip Anselmo’s barked/screamed vocals. Eventually, the guitarist, Dimebag Darrell, went into such an amazing passionate solo that my brain broke into a frenzy trying to keep up with all the notes he was playing. Every song has a brilliant and insanely fast guitar solo.
Vulgar Display of Power has aggressive songs and power ballads. "Hollow," a power ballad, is one of my favorite songs. It starts out with an acoustic guitar and slow electric lead while Phil sings about his friend’s drug addiction. Then it builds with a shredding solo and distorted guitar. Because "Hollow" starts out mellow and then becomes heavy, it leaves me feeling pumped up. "A New Level" is an aggressive song that features a pummeling main riff and yet another shredding guitar solo.
In 2000, Pantera broke up after their album, Reinventing the Steel, due to Phil’s drug problems. On Dec. 8 of 2004, Dimebag Darrell was assassinated while performing with his new band, Damageplan. Despite their breakup, and Dimebag’s tragic death, Pantera’s legacy will live on.