By Nate Buchik
Various artists - Future Soundtrack for America (Barsuk)
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Various artists - Future Soundtrack for America
8 out of 10
It seems like every band is rocking against Bush these days. It always starts with the punk bands, because they're so anti-establishment. Even, apparently, the whorish corporate ones like Good Charlotte and Simple Plan.
Next comes the old-time rockers. Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and U2 screaming for change in this country.
And finally, the indie rockers. Sure, they've been against Bush and the compassionate conservative bullshit from the beginning, but they're used to spouting knowledge on larger themes like world peace or ending human suffering.
So here comes this compilation from an indie rock label (Barsuk) and some enormous names (The Might Be Giants, Tom Waits, The Flaming Lips). They fill a CD with a ridiculous 22 tracks, including one of the most anticipated indie songs of the summer, Elliott Smith's "A Distorted Reality Is Now A Necessity To Be Free."
Benefiting organizations like Music For America and MoveOn.org, the comp isn't entirely political. Ben Kweller's "Jerry Falwell Destroyed Earth" is fairly left, but there's also Blink-182's "I Miss You (James Guthrie Mix)." So if you can't stand the anti-Bush sentiments, you still can find some quality tunes..
OK Go opens the album with "This Will Be Our Year," a Zombies cover on happy pills that's reminiscent of a picnic in a summer meadow. The next track keeps an uplifting spirit, combining David Byrne with some church-like hand claps.
As the album moves along, Jimmy Eat World and Death Cab add memorable album-quality numbers, Sleater-Kinney provides one of their best tracks in years and R.E.M. remix a haunting version of "Final Straw."
Problems start midway through the album with live tracks from Bright Eyes and, especially, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I don't imagine Karen O's voice has ever sounded as bad and out of tune as it does on "Date With the Night." Is she a Bush fan or something?
The Long Winters give the most rewarding performance on the album with "The Commander Thinks Aloud." The overpowering vocals and drums should make this a frontrunner if we ever try out a new national anthem.
The last track belongs to Smith, whose final album will come out this fall. "Reality" has a different flavor than most of Smith's work. The guitar solo sounds like it's straight out of a modern rock song and the double-tracked vocals quiver through lyrics like "God knows why my country don't give a fuck." There's even a bit of a jam vibe in parts of the song, which makes me wonder how much of the song is Elliott and how much are those who helped produce after he died.
As for "Future Soundtrack," I wouldn't mind being part of a country where everyone had taste this good.