News Archive... AKA The Old Blog

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Soundtrack Preview: 'Cars'

Following the success of the X-Men: The Last Stand preview, Cinemusic brings you five clips from Randy Newman's score for Disney/Pixar's Cars, in stores June 6th on Walt Disney Records. Like his previous scores for Pixar's Toy Story (1 and 2), A Bug's Life and Monsters, Inc., Cars is thoroughly Randy Newman effort - zippy, brightly colored and infused with plenty of personality. Unique for Newman is an infusion of rocking drums and electric guitars (think James Newton Howard's Space Jam), which will surely thrill Nascar fans more than film music purists! Walt Disney Records tops up Newman's 20+ minutes of score with a stable of inoffensive family-friendly radio acts like Sherly Crow, Racal Flatts, James Taylor and John Mayer.

1. Opening Race
2. New Road
3. Dirt Is Different
4. McQueen and Sally
5. The Big Race

Links: Purchase Cars / Walt Disney Records

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Caps: 'BB Mountain' & more

A new batch of capsule reviews was added to the site on Monday. This was a great way to catch up with titles we missed in '05, among them the Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain and the fan-favorite Hostage. I know what you're thinking: "Capsule reviews. So what?!" Well, each one has a soundclip to go with. This is the only place you'll find that, Mr. Crabby McSoundtrack! Click here to read 'em (and listen!).

Monday, May 29, 2006

Review: Powell's 'Ice Age 2'

Ice Age The Meltdown
Music Composed, Arranged and Produced by John Powell

There are only so many ways of saying that John Powell's career is going up-up-up, that he gets better with each score, and that 2006 is his biggest year yet, so let's just pretend that I already found a fresh way of making that observation and move on. The fact that his grand-scale comedic romp for Ice Age The Meltdown is destined to be his least significant work this year only emphasizes how far the man's come from his early days as one of Hans Zimmer's many lackeys. Continue reading review...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Review: Zimmer's ' Da Vinci Code'

The Da Vinci Code
Music Composed, Arranged and Produced by Hans Zimmer

The Da Vinci Code. Whether you've seen the movie, or read the book, or both, or neither, you're sure to have heard something about it. Given that Ron Howard was chosen as director for the screen adaptation of the novel, the choice of Hans Zimmer to pen the film's score was an interesting one, given Howard's tendency to work with James Horner and, more recently, Thomas Newman.

It was a risky choice that paid off, however. Zimmer has crafted a score that aptly fits the dark and religious tone of the subject matter. Continue reading review...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Varese: another trip through 'Stargate'

Varese Sarabande announced a pair of upcoming releases, first up in stores on July 20th is Brian Tyler's The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift. Varese sez:
"...The propulsive score for The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift was composed by Brian Tyler. It packs an explosive and exhilarating energy which allows the composer to also show off his virtuosity with both the guitar and percussion. Joining Brian on guitar is none other than Slash (Guns N’Roses, Velvet Underground). This is a furious dose of adrenaline that makes for one of the most thrilling CDs of the summer!..."
Also due from (curiously) label is David Arnold's Stargate (aka the first film of my young adult life that I truly hated). Previously available from Milan Records, Varese promises:
"...The Deluxe Edition treatment in this newly mastered and expanded special soundtrack release...This is the Stargate CD everyone has been waiting for!"
More info:

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Review: Powell's 'X-Men 3'

X-Men: The Last Stand
Music by John Powell

It has taken three attempts by three different composers to get the music for the popular X-Men franchise right. Michael Kamen's score to X-Men, with all due respect, made no sense to me. There were no big themes to grab hold of. The X-Men series, which crams as many superheroes into a two-hour film as can be attempted by man, would kill any composer trying to assign a leitmotif for each of the major characters. But one strong, memorable theme is absolutely necessary to represent the whole X-Men team. Continue reading review...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Vidgames: 'Lineage II' concert

NCsoft Announces “Lineage II: The Concert” -- Award-winning composer Inon Zur to be honored at first symphonic game music concert in Korea.

Renowned composer Inon Zur will be celebrated in a special live symphony concert presentation of his music for the computer game Lineage II: Chronicle V: Oath of Blood, to be performed by the Mostly Philharmonic Orchestra at the AX-Hall in Seoul, Korea on May 30th, 2006. Internationally recognised as one of the A-list composers in the video games industry, Zur was commissioned by NCsoft Korea to compose the game’s original score based on his award-winning dramatic music for film, television and video games.

Mr. An Yong Jin, Sound Supervisor at NCsoft Studio E&G and organizer of Lineage II: The Concert, said, ”Inon has written some of the most emotionally charged and ethereal music heard in a computer game to date. His music for Lineage II is perfectly suited for a live symphony concert setting and more importantly it matches our vision for this epic game and upgrades the fantasy to a whole new level!”

For the recording of the Lineage II: Chronicle V: Oath of Blood original game score, Zur recently conducted and recorded with the 70-piece Northwest Sinfonia at the Bastyr University Chapel in Seattle. The score was mixed at Zur’s project studio in Los Angeles.

Commenting on his music for the game and the upcoming live concert performance in Seoul, Korea, Inon Zur said, “I’m very proud and honored to take part in the legendary Lineage series. I hope my music will add to the Lineage heritage and bring some new elements to this magical world. I had an extremely fascinating experience working on this game and I look forward to sharing this music with the players and fans. It is a dream come true to have my music performed live in concert.”

For more information please visit

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hot 'X' preview at Cinemusic

Cinemusic loves you. To prove it, here's a sneak peek at John Powell's upcoming score for X-Men: The Last Stand, in stores on May 23 on Varese Sarabande Records. The score, written for mammoth orchestra, chorus and electronics, is Powell's biggest to date. Stepping into the third film of a franchise, John delivers several highlights including a completely new theme for the X-Men gang (heard prominently in clips 3 and 5) as well as some show-stopping anvil work and a bass-thumping groove mixed with his main theme ("The Last Stand")! Enjoy...

1. Whirlpool of Love
2. Dark Phoenix's Tragedy
3. Attack on Alcatraz
4. Phoenix Rises
5. The Last Stand

Links: Purchase X-Men: The Last Stand / Varese Sarabande

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

'Alias' ended

After five seasons, Alias, the spy-action-drama that helped lift ABC out of the ratings gutter is retiring. Series composer Michael Giacchino and company pulled out all the stops, recording thirty-plus minutes of music for the series finale, utilizing a larger orchestra than usual in a whirlwind four hour session yesterday at Paramount in Los Angeles. The final eps will air later this month. Viewers in the United States can watch the final episodes for free at the day after they air.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Caps: 'Jarhead', 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith'

Music Composed and Conducted by Thomas Newman
Decca Records, B000598302, 25 Tracks, 61'21"
Rating: ***

Thomas Newman has done some of his best work for Sam Mendes, but Jarhead was always going to be a tricky project to handle musically. It's a film about a war whose ground soldiers really didn't get to do anything, and Mendes refuses to make any commentary either for or against the military that would obstruct the film's attempt at an honest portrayal. This does not leave the composer much to work with, so we should give Newman credit that the score is as entertaining and intelligently crafted as it is. An eclectic slew of rock, percussive, Middle Eastern, and whatever other elements Newman sees fit to toss in, the score creates convincing musical approximation of the frustration and pent-up aggression of a group of a soldiers stuck in a war that they aren't allowed to fight. Newman keeps the momentum consistent, and despite the lack of an orchestra or any presence in the emotional foreground, the music is consistently engaging throughout. Make no mistake, this is decidedly the Newman of The Player and American Beauty – if you were hoping for his bittersweet orchestral sweep, you will most definitely be disappointed. Still, while it's hardly one of his best, it's the best possible score a film like this could hope for. - Paul Cote

Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Music Composed by John Powell
Lakeshore Records, LKS33828, 19 Tracks, 43'54"
Rating: ****

John Powell has established himself as the front-runner in scoring hip contemporary thrillers in the past several years, seemingly growing better with each successive project. To date, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is the best of the bunch and by far Powell's best solo project to date. In fact, this may be damning with faint praise, but this may be the best score I've heard from the genre, period. Best described as techno-tango-flamenco action music, this is a score with style, wit, and energy that never lets up. The Spanish dance element would be a gimmick in lesser hands, but Powell turns it into a source of genuine inspiration and manages to score the entire film from this angle. He uses an orchestra, but merges it seamlessly into the Spanish and electronic ensemble, creating an organic sound that never sounds trapped in any particular world. Miraculously, the album never runs out of steam, as virtually all of the scores in this genre eventually do – Powell keeps the momentum running throughout the score's entirety. There few scores that you could impress your friends with (even when those scores are for would-be-hip thrillers), but Mr. and Mrs. Smith may be one of the first. I doubt you'll hear it in the club circuit, but I wouldn't be surprised if pieces from the score emerge as staples of the contemporary dance stage in years to come. - Paul Cote

Friday, May 12, 2006

'Amazing' 10 year wait worth it

Intrada raised the bar last night with the announcement of their latest release. This is a huge fan favorite (yes, I've already ordered my copy) and should go a long way with pleasing those of us who grew up in the '80s glued to the T.V.
Intrada Announces:

Amazing Stories
Music by John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, and More
Intrada Special Collection Volume 32

In 1985, Steven Spielberg launched an ambitious anthology series called Amazing Stories. Spread out over two seasons were good-natured, colorful tales of the fantastic. Stories about a cartoon wheel on a world war II plane, a phantom train, a ghoulish school teacher, magnetized kids, mummys and hair pieces gone wild...anything the imagination could conjure. To bring these outlandish tales to life, Spielberg assembled an amazing line up of directors including himself, Clint Eastwood, Danny DeVito, Robert Zemeckis, Joe Dante, Martin Scorsese and many more. Musically, Amazing Stories featured some of Hollywood's biggest talents -- a roster of composers never seen before or since on a single television series.

Within the next few months, Intrada will be releasing three 2-CD sets featuring the stunning music composed for Amazing Stories. Some of the highlight episodes included on these three sets are John Williams' "Ghost Train" and "The Mission", Jerry Goldsmith's "Boo", James Horner's "Alamo Jobe", and music by Bruce Broughton, Michael Kamen, Leonard Rosenman, Georges Delerue, Danny Elfman, Alan Silvestri, Craig Safan, David Shire...the list goes on. Each represented episode is complete, and each disc features a different version of the Amazing Stories theme. Also featured is Williams' Amblin logo theme.

The music was mixed from the original multi-track masters and result in stunning stereo sound throughout. Liner notes are by Jon Burlingame. The first set is available now and is limited to 3000 copies.

Intrada Special Collection - Volume 32
In stock now
For cover art, track listing, and sound samples, please visit

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Great Scott 'On The Score'

Daniel Schweiger, host of On The Score, posted this at FSM, so I swiped it to post here...
John Scott is the new guest at On the Score, the show that listens to the words and music of today's top composers. So tune in to to hear Scott discuss a legendary career that includes such scores as Greystoke, The Final Countdown and The Costeau Voyages.

Scott will also talk about his upcoming concert on Thursday, May 18th at Royce Music Hall, a show that will show the influence of classical music on such scores as Logan's Run, Scott of the Antartic and Greystoke and guests that will include Michael York (Logan's Run) and Samantha Eggar (The Collector).

And be sure to tune in for a chance to win a pair of tickets to Scott's concert, with a pair given away every day through Saturday. Just go to the Trivia site on the left of the Main FMR page to enter.

Thanks for listening to a Score that celebrates the esteemed career of John Scott at

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Capsules: 'Punisher' and 'Penguins'

The Punisher
Music Composed and Conducted by Dennis Dreith
Perserverance Records, PRD 006, 39 Tracks, 79'22"
Rating: ***

This was news to me too, but apparently last year's forgettable Hollywood adaptation of Marvel Comics' The Punisher was actually the vigilante's second big-screen outing. The first was this 1990 Australian (?!) production, scored by Dennis Dreith (no, I hadn't heard of him either). One might reasonably enter this sort of score expecting the worst, but Dreith's music is surprisingly involving. The 80s pop elements certainly haven't aged well, but the score contains some surprisingly sophisticated action writing that recalls the most relentless music that Jerry Goldsmith was writing around this period (I'm thinking of Total Recall in particular). Granted, the hideous synthesizers occasionally recall some of the worst music that Jerry Goldsmith was writing in this period, but the grand orchestral passages are sizable and rich with genuinely interesting musical ideas. Anybody searching for a memorable theme is going to go home empty handed, but the album is well worth the risk for more adventurous listeners. - Paul Cote

March of The Penguins
Music Composed and Produced by Alex Wurman
Milan Records, M2-36131, 12 Tracks, 41'31"
Rating: ****

Alex Wurman's charming score for the little Penguin movie that could is one of 2005's highlights for me. In a year filled with bombastic, over-orchestrated thrill rides featuring classical music performer guest stars, Wurman's score singles itself out as quaint, and stunningly beautiful in it's simplicity. From the calming chord progressions in "The Harshest Place on Earth", which opens the Milan soundtrack album, to the tear-jerker "Going Home for the First Time", Wurman's quasi-new-age, quasi-orchestral score emphasizes micro ideas voiced on an assortment of solo instruments, primarily shimmering flutes, light strings and piano, and soft electronic pads that make for a comforting, and satisfactory listen. I realize this may not be everyone's idea of epic scoring, but the film never demands more in terms of volume, and in this case, an overtly aggressive approach would have steamrolled the delicacy of the story and our connection with those loveable penguins. There are many highlights here, including the insistent harp and vibes in the middle of "Walk Not Alone", which give away to a jaunty piano line and assorted percussion and gongs ("The March"). The idea here is movement and determination, and Wurman conveys this clearly. The composer's main theme is also repeated frequently, for those pesky theme buffs. The album is breathlessly sequenced, with tracks transitioning seamlessly into each other. The entire experience is an emotional transportation - a mix of heart-wrenching beauty ("Found Love") and sweet melancholy ("Walk Through Darkness"). One of 2005's best scores. - Ryan Keaveney

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tyler 'Furious' with SoundtrackNet

Does that headline make it seem like there's some sort of scandal? Well, if it does, great! Nothing like a little made up heat to bring things to a boil around here. In reality, it's another installment in the SoundtrackNet remote podcast series, this time with Brian Tyler, live from mixing sessions for his The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift score. To listen, head to SoundtrackNet.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Zimmer too scary for kids

From The Sydney Morning Herald:
The producers of the new $US75 million ($100 million) film were told that their request for a certificate suitable for 12 years and over was inappropriate because the film's score was too tense for young children, and its sound levels accentuated the violence.
Read the entire article.

Giacchino fit to print

Jon Burlingame's article on Michael Giacchino regarding his Mission: Impossible III score ran in the New York Times this weekend. You can read the article online. (Registration with the site is required).

The L.A. Opera will premiere Elliot Goldenthal's new concert work Grendel on May 27th. The Opera's website will feature behind-the-scenes photos, video and more featuring Goldenthal and the show's director Julie Taymor from now until the opening night. Follow the process here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Seperated At Birth: Vol. 1

Ever hear a piece of film music that reminds you of something else? No, this is not a James Horner post. Instead, let's listen to the uncanny similiarities in style, sound and melody between the 1961 recording of "Domino" by Ray Martin and his orchestra, on the RCA/Victor LP Excitement, Incorporated and David Arnold's score for the ill-fated The Stepford Wives. What do you think?

Listen: "Domino" and then "Stepford Wives, Main Title".

Thursday, May 04, 2006

'Family Guy' skewers 'Poltergeist'

Lukas Kendall at Film Score Monthly with a heads up:
Next Sunday's (5/7/06) episode of Family Guy is a Poltergeist parody for which Ron Jones wrote a terrific score emulating Goldsmith's OST. The original plan was to license and re-record the actual cues but when that proved too expensive Ron did a sound-alike -- which is so evocative of Jerry in orchestration it's really uncanny. They used a 55-piece orchestra (huge for TV) on the Fox stage including the specialized instruments like the bass slidewhistle and waterphone, etc. There's a great Lord of the Rings joke thrown in there too.
But what about Poltergeist 2!?

The good folks at SoundtrackNet take you behind-the-scenes of two recent scoring sessions: Brian Tyler's The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift and Ted Shapiro's The Devil Wears Prada.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Intrada's new Fox 2fer

Revolt of Mamie Stover / Hilda Crane
Intrada Special Collection Volume 31

World premiere of two original soundtracks from Fox Cinemascope movies from 1950's, featuring strong women characters. Jane Russell plays Mamie Crane, saloon singer in Hawaii during WWII with Hugo Friedhofer music in tow. Infectious jazz-ish melody dominates, lush island music for voyage and Hawaii backdrop highlights. Dramatic wartime motifs, other ideas also appear. Jean Simmons plays divorced young woman Hilda Crane, returning to home town with David Raksin supplying musical support. Zesty main title leads. Sometimes warm, sometimes complex dramatic material plays in contrast. Both scores presented in superb stereo sound from original Fox scoring elements vaulted in excellent condition. Lionel Newman conducts former score, Alfred Newman conducts latter. Limited edition of 1200 copies.

For soundclips, tracklist and to pre-order, visit

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

'X-Men: The Last Stand' TL

Varese has posted the tracklist for John Powell's X-Men: The Last Stand (aka X-Men 3) on their website with curious cover art. The disc is due in stores on May 23rd.

1. 20 Years Ago (1:10)
2. Bathroom Titles (1:09)
3. The Church of Magneto, Raven Is My Slave Name (2:40)
4. Meet Leech, Then Off To The Lake (2:37)
5. Whirlpool of Love (2:04)
6. Examining Jean (1:12)
7. Dark Phoenix (1:28)
8. Angel’s Cure (2:34)
9. Jean and Logan (1:39)
10. Dark Phoenix Awakes (1:45)
11. Rejection Is Never Easy (1:09)
12. Magneto Plots (2:05)
13. Entering The House (1:18)
14. Dark Phoenix’s Tragedy (3:18)
15. Farewell To X (:30)
16. The Funeral (2:52)
17. Skating On The Pond (1:12)
18. Cure Wars (2:57)
19. Fight In The Woods (3:06)
20. St Lupus Day (3:03)
21. Building Bridges (1:16)
22. Shock And No Oars (1:15)
23. Attack On Alcatraz (4:36)
24. Massacre (:31)
25. The Battle of The Cure (4:20)
26. Phoenix Rises (6:29)
27. The Last Stand (5:29)

Monday, May 01, 2006

A piece of my mind: 'The Howling'

The Howling - * * * *
Music Composed by Pino Donaggio
La-La Land Records (LLLCD 1037)

I’m sure that Donnagio has done fine work in all genres, but the largely uninitiated (like myself) will always know him best for his shamelessly cheesy horror scores of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. These scores tend to be hit or miss for me, but The Howling is by far my favorite of the few I’m familiar with. His signature cheesy synthesizers do play a significant role, but here Donnagio deftly integrates them into a score that largely triumphs as an unabashedly old-fashioned gothic throwback. Scored primarily for strings and organ (we think of it as a cliché, but how many horror scores actually feature a prominent role for organ?), The Howling may at times careen into gothic excess, but the over-the-top approach is perfect for Dante’s gaudy film and damned if it isn’t entertaining. As always, Lala Land gives the score a first class treatment, even going so far as to include the score’s brief synth stingers (sequenced, thoughtfully, at the album’s end where the majority of us can avoid them). - Paul Cote

This is the first of a slew of capsule reviews to be added to the site over the next few days. Yes, new reviews are coming...!