Entertainment

Mitchell: A Great Big World demonstrate their songwriting chops

A Great Big World; Is There Anybody Out There? (Epic)

Luck, they say, is a huge part of success.  For a few years the singer/songwriting duo of Ian Alex and Chad Vaccarino—a.k.a. A Great Big World—knocked about New York until their song This Is The New Year (included here) was picked up to be sung on an episode of Glee.

Their careers then quickly took off where this debut is in the top 10 while the single Say Something is a smash hit as a duet with Christina Aguilera.

The rest of this CD ranges from better than average pop to excellent songcraft with highlights like the Todd Rundgren-styled Land Of Opportunity and the Barenaked Ladies-like Shorty Don’t Wait.  There is the Jackson Browne-like Already Home and the sure fire follow up hit I Really Want It that should top the adult alternative charts with its major hooks.

Songs that don’t work are the flippant Everyone Is Gay and the forced ‘youthfulness’ of Cheer Up! Otherwise a solid and sophisticated first outing.

B

 

American Hustle; Soundtrack (Sony Legacy)

Some soundtracks re-capture a particular time and place causing the music to take on a new life.  Huge selling soundtracks like The Big Chill revived MoTown while American Graffiti, Good Morning Vietnam and Dirty Dancing all brought back ’50s/’60s pop and soul.

Well, American Hustle is another blockbuster film and only time will tell if it is successful in reviving ’70s music (and disco) although you could argue that is what classic rock radio is all about.

American Hustle is loaded with past hits from Elton John, ELO, Donna Summer, Tom Jones, Bee Gees, America and Harold Melvin, while it is somewhat ironic that one of the biggest hit soundtrack songs of all time, Live And Let Die by Paul McCartney’s Wings, is also included.

The only ‘new’ song is a cool cover of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit sung in Arabic by Mayssa Haraa making this mostly a soundtrack only for big film buffs, unless the album really takes off like the aforementioned ones.

B-


August, Osage County; Soundtrack (Sony)

Some people tell me this film is sort of a nasty, demonic and dysfunctional version of The Bickersons.  On the big screen that’s not my cup of tea but the soundtrack is OK.

There are a few oldies here by Eric Clapton, Bon Iver and Billy Squire along with some winsome score by award winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla (Brokeback Mountain, Babel, On The Road).

The real gems here are the new songs, especially the very pretty folk ballads Last Mile Home by Kings Of Leon (the biggest selling point) and the cello-sweetened Violet’s Song by J.D. & The Straightshot.

Cast member Benedict Cumberbatch tries his voice out with some acclaim on the very short song Can’t Keep It Inside which quickly leads into End Credits making this mostly for fans only.

B-

 

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