Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review--The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond

The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond did what I had hoped and made a post-apocalyptic folk sound, a natural and primal folk music that arises out of a troubled and destroyed nation in the future.  I'd trust no one but T Bone Burnett to do so.  While the songs may not be in the movie itself, it is a nice accompaniment to set the tone for what life is like in Katniss's hometown with themes relative to her life and to the uprising.

Arcade Fire's staccato and childlike percussion-heavy opening track "Abraham's Daughter" provides a tone of children going to battle, a song about authority quelling an uprising and questioning.

From there, we move to the hopeful "Tomorrow Will be Kinder" by the Secret Sisters, light and airy with a pleasant ukelele and a viola.

Neko Case's "Nothing to Remember" gives us a boldness fitting for Katniss.

That leads us to the hit single "Safe and Sound" by Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars, a song I wanted to not like, but it's so catchy and well-produced that I can't help but to like it.  I've never been a Swift fan, and even in this song, I can't stand her breathy voice at the beginning, but it gains momentum and beauty as the song progresses.

KiD CuDi's "The Ruler and the Killer" is a mix of ancient primal tribal chants with a heavy metal that makes me somehow tolerate it, though it does become grating after a while.

The Punch Brothers, of course, do wonders with their tune "Dark Days", magnificently done in its instrumental intricacies the message of love as a guiding light leading through the dark days.

Of course, The Decemberists do "One Engine" justice in their trademark old-timey sound with a theme that doesn't stray from their typical albums'.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops provide perhaps my favorite and most fitting as a new folk song "Daughter's Lament" under the shadow of a traditional tune.  You'd never think it was original.  The lack of instruments and simplicity of the vocals are crucial to the Appalachian culture.

The Civil Wars' "Kingdom Come" is very Civil Warsy, soothing and breezy with soft and quick crescendos and decrescendos.

I shouldn't be surprised by Glen Hansard's "Take the Heartland", but I am after Once.  His rock background provides him a masterful ease that evokes such anger and passion that can only come from war.

I was also pleasantly surprised in Maroon 5's song "Come Away to the Water", featuring Rozzi Crane.  It's my second favorite song here with such a dark folksy sound, much like the ancient murder ballads.

The Pistol Annies are a surefire success.  I can just hear them singing "Run Daddy Run" in a pub in the Seam.

Jayme Dee sings a bluesy song with a folk vibe, much like that of Norah Jones or Sara Bareilles.

I could do without Taylor Swift's rush of anger and pressure in "Eyes Open".  It sounds a lot like her other stuff, of which I'm not too fond.

The Low Anthem perform a lovely and melodic Dylan-esque tune, dark and visual, in "Love is Childlike".

The album rounds out with "Just a Game" by Birdy, who has such a unique and tear-soaked voice, much like Emiliana Torrini when she sings "Gollum's Song" for the LOTR OST.  A song of Katniss's confusion of Peeta's devotion towards her.

Many of these artists didn't even have to change their sound to contribute to the post-apocalyptic futuristic folk music on The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond, and it succeeds in creating a haunting and unforgettable album, but it could've been enhanced with a more solid basis in the traditional folk music of Appalachia brought from the British Isles.

Score: 9/10

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