As a serious pop-culture playa, I do more than consume movies. I’ve also been known to eat up music as well. It’s simply by coincidence that the latest batch of discs to hit my desk are related to film in one way or another, directly or indirectly. Like what, you ask? Like ...Drive (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) The year’s best movie
gives us the year’s best soundtrack, anchored by a damn fine score from Cliff Martinez, whose work I’ve admired since his sparse guitar on “sex, lies, and videotape” in 1989. Here, Martinez proves himself a master of mood, with 14 down-tempo cuts that exist in the shadows but pulse with tension and excitement. His beats are very much a character in the film, but they work well on their own, especially as a soundtrack to your own zooming about town. Where else will such menacing titles (“Skull Crushing,” “They Broke His Pelvis,” “Kick Your Teeth”) belie their come-down content?
I also cannot discount the disc’s first five tracks, mostly synth-driven, ’80s-influenced numbers by under-the-radar acts Kavinsky & Lovefoxxx, Desire, College and Chromatics. The show may be stolen, by Italian composer Riz Ortolani’s “Oh My Love,” a 1971 ballad showcasing the beautiful, seductive voice of Katyna Ranieri, which ironically provides the sonic background to cinema’s grisliest elevator encounter. Batman: Arkham City - The Album
Soundtracks to video games are no longer a novelty, and “Batman: Arkham City — The Album” is among the most heavily promoted I’ve ever seen. No matter how the game turns out — quite awesome, if its predecessor is any indication — the disc offers 11 tracks of songs (some original) that’s surprisingly cohesive for a “various artists” effort. I’ve no idea if these actually appear in the game, but all would fit (Daughtry excepted), being various shades of dark and grimy. Immediate standouts for me were †††’s “The Years” and Panic! At the Disco’s “Mercenary,” which is the closest thing to joy the compilation dares reach.
A better-than-usual Black Rebel Motorcycle Club recalls Stone Roses on “Shadow on the Run,” while The Raveonettes dish out their brand of gloom-pop with “Oh, Stranger.” While I’m no fan of the over-the-top style of Coheed and Cambria (here with “Deranged”), I admit to digging the over-the-top of vocals of System of the Down’s Serj Tankian, who’s solo here with “Total Paranoia.” Also among the rogue’s gallery of groups: The Duke Spirit, The Damned Things and The Boxer Rebellion. Perhaps its spirit of all things Gotham will tie you over until “The Dark Knight Rises” lands in theaters. Doug Benson - Potty Mouth
The title holds double meaning, because not only is comedian Doug Benson’s act decidedly R-rated, but the man loves his marijuana. I know this because he won’t stop talking about it in this live act, not to mention in his podcast, “Doug Loves Movies,” which currently is something to live for (and justifies me including his disc here). Culled from two consecutive shows, “Potty Mouth” finds Benson doing his usual stand-up, which isn’t usual in the stand-up world. Rather than follow the standard set-up/punch-line formula, he just seems to talk from the top of his head (he’s well-noted for his lack of being able to remember anything without writing it down).
Thus, we get seemingly random observations on Twitter (including him calling out audience members tweeting about the show during
the show, marijuana, dirty words, more marijuana, the Black Eyed Peas, and even more marijuana. A highlight has him telling him the world’s cleanest joke and the world’s dirtiest joke simultaneously, alternating between the two line by line. It makes sense when you hear it, and I hope you do. Bonus: The non-digital, physical-CD version includes a DVD of his now-canceled Comedy Central series, “The Benson Interruption.”Robert Davi - Davi Sings Sinatra: On the Road to Romance
Yes, folks, that
Robert Davi: the character actor with the poor complexion who’s memorable in such ’80s blockbusters as “The Goonies,” “Die Hard” and “License to Kill.” Often the bad guy on the screen, the guy’s got good pipes on stage, as demonstrated throughout this 12-song covers album of Frank Sinatra hits. You’d assume this album to be some half-assed vanity project, but nope! It’s produced by the legendary, 14-time Grammy winner Phil Ramone, who’s worked his studio magic with the likes of Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Burt Bacharach, Madonna and Elton John, not to mention the Chairman of the Board himself.
Plus, Davi doesn’t go for all of Sinatra standards. No “Theme from New York, New York,” no “My Way,” no “Fly Me to the Moon,” “It Was a Very Good Year,” “Strangers in the Night,” “It Had to Be You” and all that. He sings “Witchcraft” and “I’ve Got the World on a String,” and that’s about it for the greatest hits. Admirably, he opts for the lesser-known tunes (“Mam’selle,” anyone?), which forces listeners to hone in on his voice, rather than let their brains recite lyrics they’ve committed to memory. Quite simply, Davi does good; Frank would approve.
That said, it’s not really my thing. But rest assured, my mom is gonna love
it. —Rod Lott