Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Review: JUNO Soundtrack

For one reason or another I can quite vividly recall seeing the first poster go up for Juno back in December of last year in my local theater. Neither of the faces jumped out at me, but the poster struck a cord, so I stuck the name in the back of my mind and proceeded in to watch I Am Legend.

Within a few weeks Juno started spreading like wildfire across the nation and inter-web, even into the desolate regions of northern Utah that I call home. While news about the film started piling up, I waited patiently for my chance to see it. Unfortunately for me (and the other residents of Logan who like watching a good flick) Juno didn't last in theaters long. Most non-blockbuster films don't do particularly well in Cache Valley, especially those with an R-rating.

Keep in mind, all of the theaters (except 1, I believe) in Logan (now over 100,000 residents in the greater area) are owned by the same company which gets an overwhelming barrage of complaints from the local yokels when there aren't enough "family friendly" movies for viewing. Thusly, Juno didn't fare much better than Little Miss Sunshine, Into the Wild or Thank You For Smoking, all of which either had one week in a major theater or no opening at all with a brief stint in a tired old "Independent Film" theater. I'll run out to watch Juno when it comes out on DVD, but until then all I have to go by is the soundtrack...

The soundtrack itself seems to fit well with what I know of the movie. I guess the best word to describe it would be "quirky". While not all of the sound track is my cup of tea, some tracks did stand out to me, most notably "Superstar" by Sonic Youth and "Sea of Love" by Cat Power.

The majority of the soundtrack is dominated by Kimya Dawson and her former band, The Moldy Peaches. These tracks are pretty much the best of what anti-folk has to offer. If you're into off-beat poetry laced with some acoustic guitar, look no further. A few old-school selections round out the rest of the album (Buddy Holly, The Kinks, The Velvet Underground), but the focus of the soundtrack is on the anti-folk songs provided by Kimya Dawson. While these aren't necessarily my favorite of tunes, I can certainly see how they'd fit into an off-beat flick like Juno.

I guess my main dislike of the soundtrack has more to do with the unexpected welcoming of the film and soundtrack into mainstream society rather than the songs themselves. The songs fit the movie like a glove, but I can't really think for a minute that The Moldy Peaches thought the annoying girl in accounting was going to be singing "Anyone Else But You" after switching out her Fergie CD - but that's exactly what's happening (believe me, I heard it last week).
"Indie" music is indie for a reason - so the suits won't like it.

We'll have to see if Juno has lasting appeal in mainstream society or if it was just a flash in the pan. I doubt we'll see The Moldy Peaches selling out The Delta Center anytime soon, but who knows - it didn't take the stock brokers long to start singing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" when grunge exploded. All I know is that I can't stand when people who listen to top 40 radio and watch American Idol suddenly start diggin' the underground.

All in all, this album is worth picking up if you find yourself in any of the following categories:

1- You loved Juno
2- You enjoy folk music
3- You think "mainstream" folk is kinda lame, but you still like the sound (welcome to anti-folk!)
4- You enjoy a good indie-themed mix tape

If you don't fit into those groups then you probably won't care much for the soundtrack. If you do fall into those groups then I'd highly recommend picking it up.

Here's a few tracks so those of you who haven't seen the movie (like me) can get a general idea of what you're getting into:
Purchase the Juno soundtrack: iTunes | Amazon

Visit the Moldy Peaches on the web: Official | Myspace
Visit Sonic Youth on the web: Official | Myspace


Stu said...

The faces didn't jump out at you?! Come on, it's George Michael from Arrested Development and Kitty Pryde from (as Brock likes to put it) X-claw-claw-claw.

Oh and the Sonic Youth song got me chuckling; don't they know this song is un-coverable since the movie Tommy Boy? You're not going to outdo David Spade and Chris Farley, you just aren't. Baby, baby, baby, baby oohhh baby...

Kraig said...

I haven't watched any AR in ages and I don't think I've ever seen an episode more than once. I know, I should see it more but I just haven't.

Also, Sonic Youth recorded the cover of Superstar for a Carpenters tribute album in '94, one year before Tommy Boy came out.